Far Right extremism in the UK is on the rise and can no longer be ignored. There have been numerous attacks committed by individuals who hold extreme Right-Wing views and rampant anti-Muslim hatred. The outgoing head of Counter-Terrorism policing in the UK, Mark Rowley, warns that threat from extreme Right Wing groups is ‘significant and concerning’. The Government need to do more to tackle the dangers posed by the extreme Right, whether individuals or organised groups. There has been much focus on preventing the radicalisation of young Muslims and prosecuting those inciting and committing violence, the same emphasis needs to be put on tackling Right Wing extremism, as they pose an equal threat.
Islamophobic and Racist Hate Crimes
A Mosque in Manchester was targeted, when a letter containing white powder was hand delivered to the premises. Frightened children were locked inside the Mosque for hours, worried and anxious parents waiting outside, whilst the Police investigated the unknown substance found in the letter. After investigation the white power was identified as baking powder. Counter Terror Police treated this incident as a hate crime. This was done to intimidate and scare the Muslim community.
In Leicester, Zaynab Hussein, 47, a Muslim woman, was deliberately hit by a car and suffered serious injuries, which has kept her in hospital for over a month now. Paul Moore has been jailed for life for ramming his car into Zaynab Hussein and trying to hit a schoolgirl in a series of Islamophobic hate crimes he intended as a retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out by “Islamist” extremists in the UK.
Mohammed Saleem, an 82 year old Muslim man was stabbed to death while on his way home from Green Lane Masjid in Small Heath, Birmingham. Pavlo Lapsyn, the man who murdered Mohammed Saleem admitted he had killed him because he was a Muslim.
Samsam Haji-Ali, a Muslim woman who was pregnant at that time, was attacked and kicked in the stomach by David Gallacher causing her to lose her baby. The attack took place outside a Co-op in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. Samsam Haji-Ali was sitting in her car when Gallacher approached her and said: “You come here with your clown outfit on, you f***ing people, you are the f***ing problem in this place”. The judge described Gallacher as a “shabby racist” and jailed him for 3 years and 11 months.
These are just some examples of horrific attacks committed by far-right extremists and there are many more I can list which are in no way less important than the ones listed.
Islamophobic and racist hate preachers like Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins, Paul Joseph Watson, Douglas Murray, Paul Golding, just to name a few, have used social media to spread their vile anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, racist rhetoric. These individuals and others who share the same ideology are no doubt inciting hatred against Muslims, which leads to atrocities like the one we saw at Finsbury Park Mosque, where right wing extremist Darren Osborne deliberately mowed down Muslim worshippers leaving prayers. Why did Darren Osbourne do this? Who inspired him? What causes a man to mow down innocent people? Social media is no doubt exacerbating Islamophobia offline, the hate being spread online is now contributing to a rise in hate crime in the real world resulting in violent attacks. It was reported in court, Darren Osbourne was influenced by right wing propaganda being spread on social networks. Osbourne actively searched online for material from Tommy Robinson and received direct messages on social media from Mr Robinson, this just goes to prove how dangerous far right hate preachers like Tommy Robinson are.
Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is no doubt one of the most influential figures in the far-right movement in the UK. Tommy came to prominence when he formed the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL). Tommy claimed the EDL were a protest group against “Muslim extremists” but it quickly became evident he and his group were against Muslims in general. After the 7/7 terror attack in London, Tommy blamed “every single Muslim” for “getting away” with it. Tommy went around the country with the EDL carrying offensive slogans and screaming profanities against Muslims and Islam, yet more evidence they were against all Muslims. Tommy eventually left the EDL, stating the group had been infiltrated by “dangerous racists”, the group, the following he had formed, influenced and radicalised. Tommy has continuously exploited terror attacks committed by “Muslim extremists”, seeking to spread fear and panic at every given opportunity. Recently, Tommy whipped up hysteria on social media, calling a car crash a “Jihadi terror attack” without an ounce of evidence. Tommy looking to exploit like he normally does, arrived at the scene with a camera crew but the authorities confirmed it was a car accident, which no doubt left him disappointed.
Tommy has incited hatred against Muslims from the very beginning and to this day he continues to peddle lies, spread anti-Muslim bigotry and is now profiting from it too after putting his name to an anti-Islam book. Tommy has created divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims, he thrives on spreading bigoted views against Muslims and brainwashing his followers with lies and ignorance.
Britain First led by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, are an anti-Islam, Anti-Immigration nationalist group. The pair are currently serving jail sentences for religiously aggravated harassment against Muslims. Their Facebook page had a significant following and was full of anti-Muslim and racist bile. Paul and Jayda facilitate the hatred and bigotry being spread on their Facebook page, they spread fake news and share fake anti-Muslim videos to rile up their ignorant supporters. Thankfully, Facebook and Twitter have finally come to their senses and banned the official Britain First accounts. Both Paul and Jayda have been in and out of court for targeting and harassing Muslims. They behave in a provocative manner “invading” mosques and entering predominantly Muslim areas to stir up trouble. Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right white supremacist Tommy Mair, who shouted “Britain First” as he attacked her. The threat of violent attacks from far-right extremists is a serious concern and cannot be ignored, this is why hate preachers need to be challenged.
The Role Of The Media
The Media have a lot to answer for, they have continuously provided a platform for far-right individuals to spew their hatred and justified it by disguising hate speech as freedom of speech. The BBC and Sky, two of the major mainstream news outlets in the UK, have given these hate preachers air time to spread their message of hate. We should not underestimate the damage this does, as it normalises racism and hate, it empowers those watching who share similar views to express their ignorance and hate openly without an ounce of remorse or responsibility.
Right wing newspapers like, The Sun, Daily Express and Daily Mail, have consistently published inaccurate stories about Muslims, which has real life consequences as far-right extremists, not interested in truth or facts, share such false stories, leading to rise in hostility towards the Muslim community. Miqdaad Versi, assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, has monitored false stories and has successfully secured many corrections and retractions, after complaining to the press regulator Ipso. Back in 2015, after the Paris terror attacks, The Sun’s front page headline read ‘One in five Brit Muslims sympathy for jihadis’. A disgraceful headline which was false, a deliberate attack on Muslims, pandering to a bigoted stereotype. The Sun were later ordered by Ipso to admit the story was “significantly misleading”, but by then the damage had already been done. These right wing tabloid papers continue to incite hatred against Muslims by spreading false stories, linking negative stories to “Islam” and “Muslims”, when religion has nothing to do with the stories a lot of the times.
LBC gave Katie Hopkins her own radio show, giving her free reign to spread hate over the airwaves. This is the same Katie Hopkins who accused an innocent Muslim family of having links to extremism. Hopkins wrote a column in the Mail, saying that the US authorities were right to stop Mohammed Tariq Mahmood, his brother Mohammed Zahid Mahmood and nine children from travelling to Los Angeles for a trip to Disneyland last year. Hopkins also suggested that the two brothers were extremists with links to Al-Qaida. This was found to be a lie and Mail Online were forced to pay compensation to the Mahmood family for falsely accusing them of extremism. The list is endless when it comes to examples of Islamophobic behaviour from Hopkins, a constant bombardment of anti-Muslim rhetoric but LBC saw fit to give this hate preacher a platform to spew her bile. Hopkins was eventually sacked by LBC after a tweet that called for a “final solution” after the Manchester terror attack, which is a term associated with the Holocaust carried out by Hitler, Hopkins tweet was interpreted as calling for a ‘final solution’ on Muslims. This was the final straw, this type of extreme hatred forced LBC to act, many high profile personalities also refused to appear on the station as long as Hopkins was still there, so after giving her a platform to reach a wider audience with her message of hate, she was sacked. LBC however still continue to employ the likes of Nigel Farage and SPLC listed anti-Muslim extremist Maajid Nawaz who continue to spew hatred on air.
The media also gave hate preacher Anjem Choudary the publicity he so desperately sought. Anjem held extreme views, but views not shared by the majority of Muslims in the UK. Anjem led a small fringe group with minimal support, but they had a loud voice amplified by the platform given to them by the media. Anjem was a media darling and the go to man when it came to discussing extremism and Muslim issues, he gave the media what they wanted to hear, sensationalism, controversy, radical views, good for ratings but unjustly portrayed Muslims and Islam in a negative manner. It doesn’t take a lot to rile up the far right but a figure like Anjem no doubt increased the hatred they held for Muslims due to ignorance and a lack of understanding of the Muslim faith. Not only has Anjem radicalised young Muslims but also those belonging to the far right, a dangerous character who should have never been given the opportunity to preach his hatred but when it comes to the media, they are more concerned about ratings and agendas, rather than sensible and honest discourse.
A Circle of Hate
We clearly cannot ignore the link between “Islamist” terror attacks and the rise of far right extremism. A lot of the recent terror attacks have been claimed by ISIS, they may claim to be Muslims but the act of killing innocent people is not Islamic and completely forbidden in Islam. When we look at the facts, ISIS kill more Muslims than they do non-Muslims, they blow up Mosques with people praying inside, they are a terrorist group committing criminal acts. The far right Islamophobes spread lies and propaganda, blaming these attacks on the Islamic faith, even though quite clearly, terror acts are completely forbidden. Anger and tensions are understandably high after terror attacks, but the right wing hate preachers do the terrorists work for them by creating hysteria, fear and spreading anti-Islam propaganda with the objective of creating divisions between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, doing exactly what a group like ISIS wants. After a terror attack, unity is very important, but these hate preachers go on the offensive attacking Islam and Muslims, riling up their ignorant followers who themselves go on to spread hate, bigotry and violent attacks in some instances.
Let Us Not Be Divided
In conclusion, it is clear far right extremism is on the rise and a very real threat. Why is right wing extremism on the rise? Because social media are facilitating far right hate preachers to reach an audience with a message of hate and bigotry. The government are not doing enough to tackle hate preachers, the usual suspects continue to incite hate and violence. The media have given far right extremists a platform, which in turn has normalised racism and bigotry, giving many with extreme far right views the motivation to express their own ignorance openly. I still believe the UK is a tolerant society, where most of us get along with one another in general and there is a mutual respect for one another’s beliefs. When the far right decide to hold protests, the counter protests are always bigger, people from different races and religions uniting as one to send a message to the far-right extremists, that we will continue to challenge their ignorant views and not allow them to divide us.
by Shahad @shahad78six