Councillor and anti-racism campaigner Dipu Ahad received vile online beheading threats in the hours leading up to demonstrations on Tyneside.
Police are today probing pictures tweeted to the Elswick ward representative.
The images show Coun Ahad’s face superimposed onto the body of a man kneeling before a masked knifeman, as if he was about to be decapitated.
They were posted on Twitter just hours before German anti-Islam group Pegida held its first UK demonstration in Newcastle, alongside a counter-march by Newcastle Unites.
Coun Ahad said the author of the post had since apologised to him via Twitter after receiving condemnation by other users of the social media site.
And he has vowed not to let the troll’s actions put him off standing up for what he believes in.
But the father has admitted he is now living in constant fear for the safety of himself and his family.
Coun Ahad said:
“This was a direct threat on my life. I fear for my physical safety every day now. I’m always looking over my shoulder. But I’m not going to stop fighting for what is right. I’m not going to be intimidated.”
Muslim Coun Ahad, a life-long campaigner against racism and intolerance, was busy putting the finishing touches to Newcastle Unites’ march plans when the picture surfaced on Friday evening.
It appears to be an image of a masked Islamic State fighter holding a large knife above a hostage in an orange T-Shirt, with the councillor’s face photoshopped on to the condemned victim’s body.
Coun Ahad reported the incident to police immediately and officers are now investigating, while taking steps to look after the safety of Coun Ahad and his family.
“When my cat jumps around at night now I have to get up and check there is no one there,” he said.
“I’m more scared for my family’s safety than I am for my own. Every time I go out I am very cautious, I’m always on edge now.”
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said:
“At 7.20pm on Friday police received information regarding a malicious communication having been received via a social media site. Enquiries are ongoing and steps were taken to ensure the safety of those concerned.”
And Coun Ahad said Saturday’s events have confirmed his belief that he must continue to stand-up to hatred and prejudice, even if it means putting himself at risk.
“It is getting to the point now where you wonder whether it will ever stop,” he said.
“But I now believe it will only stop either if I shut my mouth, or if I’m dead. This is obviously just part of my life now.
“Saturday was absolutely amazing. So many people came together from different groups. It was so humbling. I’m so passionate about our communities.
“Getting threatened is not going to stop me. At least this has started a conversation and it’s opened up communication.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Mar 2015