Thursday, April 17 2014

News

Conservative Party board to investigate Enfield councillor over anti-Muslim Facebook post

Local paper, the Enfield Independent, reports on the suspension of a local Conservative councillor from the party following an investigation into anti-Muslim comments posted on his Facebook page last year.

Cllr Chris Joannides was suspended by the local party association and had the whip withdrawn from the Conservative group on Enfield Council for the Facebook comments in which he compared Muslim women in burqa to black bin bags.

The Crown Prosecution Service earlier this month confirmed that Cllr Joannides would face no criminal charges for the comments however, the national board of the Conservative Party will be conducting its own investigation on the suitability of his party membership.

Enfield Conservative Group leader Cllr Michael Lavender said: “I have been notified, as we had expected, that the Conservative Party Board has exercised its right to review the suitability of Cllr Joannides and has suspended Cllr. Joannides’ membership of the party.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and believe all those who hold public office have a duty to promote respect, understanding and tolerance towards people of all faiths.”

 

 

Ofcom clears broadcasters over Anjem Choudary TV appearances

This is Local London reports on the latest Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin which includes details of the regulators appraisal of complaints relating to the appearance of Anjem Choudary on BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 News on May 23, and ITV Daybreak on May 24th, just days after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Ofcom received 22 complaints concerning Choudary’s TV appearances with complainants:

  • Object[ing] to Anjem Choudary being given the opportunity to air offensive views on television;

  • Consider[ing] that it was disrespectful to the family of Fusilier Rigby to interview Anjem Choudary so soon after the killing of Fusilier Rigby; and
  • Express[ing] concerns that the appearances of Anjem Choudary would incite hatred against the UK Muslim community, the majority of whom strongly opposed the killing of Fusilier Rigby.

Channel 4 in defending its decision to grant Choudary airtime stated that the C4 News is “aimed primarily at an adult audience which covers the major issues of the day in a robust and challenging way”.

It said “controversial views that are within the law should be allowed to be expressed” and that “Banning views can come close to censorship”.

It stated its purpose for inviting Choudary onto the programme was for him “to be challenged about his role in radicalising one of the alleged attackers”

It maintained Choudary’s appearance was “justified” saying “it would be a serious challenge to the basic principle of freedom of expression if such an interview could not be broadcast in this context and in this way”.

The BBC gave much the same response and too defended its inclusion of Choudary on a Newsnight panel saying he was “a key figure in the story of the murder of Fusilier Rigby, and there was a clear public interest in challenging him about what role, if any, he had played in the radicalisation of those seemingly involved in the attack”.

The BBC added that “simply excluding potential interviewees on the ground that their inclusion in programmes might cause offence would be in fundamental conflict with broadcasters’ freedom of speech and the public interest that this freedom serves”.

It also noted the inclusion of other Muslim persons in the programme to “draw viewers’ attention to their belief that Mr Choudary speaks only for a small minority of the Muslim community in the UK”.

ITV in its defence said Choudary was invited “where he might contribute to the public’s understanding of why Adebolajo may have acted as he did” and to contribute to “the ensuing public debate over radicalisation and Britain’s foreign policy”.

Assessing the complaints against Rules 1.3 and 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code, and the right to free expression enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, Ofcom ruled against breaches of the code stating:

“The Code does not prohibit particular individuals from appearing on UK television and radio just because their views or actions have the potential to cause offence, as long as broadcasters comply with the Code. To do otherwise would, in our view, be a disproportionate restriction of the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas. This is especially the case in news and current affairs programming, where the timely and comprehensive coverage of on-going news stories may require individuals or organisations with challenging views to be given airtime. However, where highly controversial individuals are given the chance to articulate their views on television or radio, broadcasters must ensure that they ensure that their views are challenged and contextualised as appropriate.”

Chief Inspector of Constabulary claims 'migrant' communities 'administering their own form of justice'

The IndependentITV News, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail all report on the Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s claims in an interview with The Times (£) newspaper at the weekend that some minority communities “born under other skies” and “from other cultures” taking law into their own hands by administering “their own form of justice”.

Tom Winsor, who became the first person from a non-police background to hold the Chief Inspector of Constabulary post in October 2012, claimed that “there are cities in the Midlands where the police never go because they are never called. They never hear of any trouble because the community deals with that on its own.”

Winsor says that police forces in some areas receive ‘close to zero’ calls leading them to believe “that those communities are administering their own form of justice”. Winsor adds, “It’s not that the police are afraid to go into these areas or don’t want to go into those areas, but if the police don’t get calls for help then of course they won’t know what’s going on.”

The Daily Mail interprets Winsor’s remarks and refers to ‘no-go zones’, a term which appeared in the Daily Express front page story in 2008 on ‘no go areas ruled by fanatics’.

Winsor tells The Times that the sorts of crimes being committed cannot be surmised but that “It could be anything from low-level crime right up to murder . . . [Honour killings] are the most extreme example. That is murder. There is no honour in it.”

Recent evidence shows a lack of support for honour based violence. A survey commissioned by Panaroma exploring attitudes towards honour amongst British Asians found that of the 500 respondents asked, “Do you personally think that there is ever a justification for so called ‘honour killings’?”, across all Asian communities (apart from ‘other Asian’) an overwhelming 94% responded “no”.

Domestic violence within ethnic minorities, in all its forms, needs to be contextualised within the wider context in Britain. A report on the BBC notes that approximately “two women a week die from domestic violence in England and Wales, a rate which has remained fairly steady for more than a decade.” A comparison of statistics on ‘honour’ based violence with domestic violence in the UK would seem to provide a richer insight into violence against women and girls as a patriarchal phenomenon that cuts across all races and cultures.

It is noteworthy that while Winsor refers to “growing concerns over the emergence of Sharia courts in some Muslim communities and a failure to report alleged crimes by some sections of the Orthodox Jewish community,” the ensuing articles refer almost exclusively to Muslims and not Orthodox Jews.

Winsor adds, “[We have to] encourage the community to have trust in the police and the criminal justice system so that justice will be delivered according to the criminal justice system of this country and no other system.”

“When it comes to criminal justice we have one system and everyone, wherever they come from, is equal under the law and entitled to fair treatment by law enforcement agencies.”

His remark on ‘one system’ of criminal justice is referred to in the media reports in relation to Shari’ah councils but not once do Beth Din courts get a mention.

In an interview with ITV News, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, takes issue with Winsor’s comments concerning communities in the Midlands pointing out that areas in Birmingham dominated by minority communities accounted for high volumes of police calls. Sims states “I don’t know if he’s talking about Birmingham, but I have only had one conversation with him since he took office and it wasn’t about this subject. His characterisation of these communities as born under other skies is just wrong. Many members of communities in Birmingham are British-born and I find that a very odd expression.”

"Reports of hate crimes have risen over the past 12 months as a result of increased trust in police within communities and their confidence in our ability to thoroughly investigate offences and bring offenders to justice."

In the article appearing in the Mail on Sunday, Conservative MP Douglas Carswell asks whether the focus ought to rightly shift to the quality of policing and away from ethnic minorities. He said, “Directly elected police commissioners are an attempt to give people a direct say over the way people are policed. Elsewhere the administering of justice often is ineffective and there is a great deal of incompetence in the system.

“People don’t feel they can count on their police. Instead of placing blame with ethnic minorities, we should ask what it is that is wrong with the criminal justice system.”

The Muslim Council of Britain stated that it was “absurd” to refer to Shari’ah councils as evidence that communities engage in ‘alternative’ policing adding that “Co-operation is particularly important for Muslim communities who have experienced a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes.”

The Home Office report on hate crimes in England and Wales notes that the most common reason given by victims for not reporting hate crime to the police was because they felt the police could not or would not do much about it. According to the report, 43% of hate crime incidents in the Crime Survey for England and Wales were not reported to police. A figure later cited in an Independent report on the scale of hate crime going unreported, uninvestigated and unsolved.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 January 2014 20:00

Lidl cashier tells customer "Go on, you Muslim, die."

The Daily Mail reports on an incident of anti-Muslim abuse at a Lidl supermarket store in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

A video of the incident can be found on the Mail Online website and shows a checkout assistant allegedly asking a customer if he is a Muslim before telling him, "Go on, you Muslim, die. Arrogant man. Arrogant Muslim man."

A transcript of the exchange between the cashier and the customer, which was sparked by confusion over the cost of carrier bags, shows the cashier repeatedly insult the customer, addressing him as 'Mohammed' and telling him he is 'not a good Muslim'.

CASHIER: 'Arrogant, arrogant, that's what he is. He's wasting time?'

MAN: 'I am wasting time?'

CASHIER: '£16.70. No, I am right. You don’t judge me and my personal life. You understand? You’re a customer. Just go, just go, just go. Listen, Mohammed. It’s arrogant. Ten years in this place.'

MAN: 'And you messed up one customer.'

CASHIER: 'Who are you? Who are you? Who are you to judge me?'

MAN: 'I judge you - the way you behave, that's why I judge you.'

CASHIER: 'How dare you judge me and my personal life. Who the f*** is he?'

MAN: 'See, she's having a bad day. Are you having a bad day?'

CASHIER: 'Are you Muslim? Are you Muslim? You're not a good Muslim. You're not a good Muslim.'

MAN: 'You're having a bad day and you're just taking it out on me.'

CASHIER: 'No, how dare you? He’s not bothering me. I’ve been here 10 years. I was having a good day until I saw your f***ing face. Go. Go. Go on, you Muslim, die. Arrogant man. Arrogant Muslim man.'

A Lidl spokesman told MailOnline: "We were extremely concerned to learn of this incident and we are looking into this as a matter of urgency with this store and the persons involved.

"We expect a high level of customer service from all members of staff so we are very disappointed to see this and certainly do not condone the behaviour shown in this video.

"We apologise to anyone who may have been offended or upset by this and we are now conducting an investigation as per our internal processes."

Last Updated on Monday, 20 January 2014 17:23

Tory MP condemns anti-Islam BNP leaflet

The Conservative MP for Enfield North, Nick De Bois, has condemned the distribution of a BNP leaflet in the local borough, the Enfield Advertiser and This is Local London report.

The leaflet prompts local residents with the incendiary question “Alarmed by the threat of Islam to your British Identity?”

It claims that ‘British identity’ is being ‘threatened’ by local planning applications for converting churches and pubs into Islamic centres and mosques.

The leaflet also warns against “organised Muslim sex gangs”, according to This Is Local London.

The leaflet further claims that the BNP is advocating for animal rights by describing halal food as “ritual slaughter” and “barbaric” which “belongs somewhere 5,000 years ago”.

A BNP spokesman said party members were canvassing the local borough because Muslims are turning London “into a foreign country” with the “wholesale repression of the British and English population”.

He added “If people want to do that [halal slaughter] I would suggest they go and do it in another country as it is completely unnecessary.”

Nick de Bois said of the leaflet “This type of 'copy and paste' literature - which doesn't even try to focus on problems in Enfield - is just scaremongering... [It is] designed to stir up racial tension for the purposes of political gain.”

The BNP which won two seats at the last European Parliament elections in 2009 is among far right parties which hope to do well in the local and European elections to be held in May.

It's not the first time the far right party has stoked anti Muslim sentiment in the run up to an election. In 2006, the BNP published a leaflet calling the local elections that year a 'referendum day' on Islam.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 17 January 2014 17:50

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