A senior UKIP official has been forced to delete racist Facebook posts after claiming he accidentally shared them to his followers.
Gordon Parkin, who is assistant to North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott and who has himself stood for Parliament, shared a series of images by the far-right groups Britain First and The New Daily Patriot on Facebook.
One post depicts Enoch Powell – the politician who made the notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in 1968 – next to the House of Commons alongside the words “I told you so…”.
He also shared an image of women wearing the niqab which said “share if you find this offensive”.
Another from Britain First, a group which opposes what it calls the “Islamification of the UK” and was founded by a member of the BNP, claims schools who choose to stock halal meat are “wrong”.
Mr Parkin, who is a powerful official in the regional party and sits on panels that assess UKIP’s potential General Election candidates, claims he accidentally shared them on the social networking site and has now deleted them.
> Well, this is a move that should sow confusion in the ranks of the stormtroopers !
While they shared the same city streets, their political ideologies were worlds apart.
But now a Muslim councillor has become the unlikely supporter of a rioting thug jailed after a violent far-right protest.
Anthony Webster, from Newcastle’s West End, is beginning a 21-month jail sentence after he and scores of other far-right supporters ran riot on the streets of Birmingham following a march through the city.
But today Coun Dipu Ahad, a passionate antifascism campaigner who has regularly publicly condemned such views, has revealed how he tried to help the yob turn his life around after meeting him and seeing his remorse.
And the Elswick councillor now feels he may have missed his chance to save Webster, and reach out to others through him.
“I was gutted he went to jail. I think he just got swept up in it all and didn’t know what he was getting himself into.
“I hope I can work with him when he gets out and show him what different communities are about. I really think he wants to change.”
Webster, of West Road, was among more than 50 people charged with violent disorder after attending an English Defence League (EDL) march in Birmingham on July 20, 2013.
After yobs ran riot in the city’s Centenary Square, hurling missiles and injuring a number of cops, a police operation stretching across the nation swung into action to trace those responsible.
And by last week 50 rioters had been jailed for a total of more than 75 years.
But as Webster awaited his fate at court he ran into Coun Ahad on the West Road.
“After we got chatting I realised he was genuinely remorseful,” said Coun Ahad.
“He said he wanted to learn more about other cultures and religions. I told him to call me if he ever needed anything.
“He told me no one had ever shown him any support, and about three or four days after he gave me a call and we chatted.
“After speaking to me I think he realised that I’m a human being, like anyone else. I think he began to realise that Muslims are not bad people.
“He also assured me that he will withdraw his membership from any far right groups and will not partake in any demos in the future.”
Coun Ahad was so moved by 38-year-old Webster’s remorse and desire to make amends, he even wrote a letter to the sentencing judge asking him to consider giving Webster a chance – despite the criticisim he knew that might attract.
“I thought I would get a lot of backlash from people that have been fighting racism and fascism for a lot of years,” he said.
“But I was convinced that he wanted to change.
“So I explained why I was doing it and that he was a human being too.
“Some far-right group members might have racist values but that’s because of ignorance. If you can speak to these people a lot of them will change their ways.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Jan 2015
Berwick Chamber of Trade’s chairman has led calls for a ban on future protest marches through the town by far-right groups.
John Haswell was speaking after the Ban the Burka demonstration by the Scottish Defence League and North East Infidels on Saturday.
“They shouldn’t be allowed back,” he said. “It doesn’t do our reputation any good at all. We’re a seaside tourist town and this is the last sort of thing we want our visitors to see.”
A survey he carried out before the event found 155 shops and businesses did not want the protest march coming through town.
Several businesses including Pier Red on Castlegate and The Leaping Salmon on Golden Square stayed closed, sacrificing profits to avoid the risk of potential trouble.
Terri Conway, duty manager at The Leaping Salmon, said: “It was just the chance of something happening – we closed last year when the SDL came to march, and we would close again if they came next year.
“Obviously being closed on a Saturday, when the weather was eventually so nice, hit us very hard.”
Around 40 right-wing protesters marched down Castlegate, along Walkergate to The Parade and back via Cowport to the railway station.
A 100-strong counter-demonstration organised by Berwick Trades Union Council took place on Marygate at the same time.
Phil Thompson, secretary of Berwick TUC, said: “It is vital that we continue to organise, to unite, to make sure they are not allowed to spread their racist and Islamophobic hatred and violence in our community.”
One 39-year-old man, from within the SDL march, was arrested for disorderly conduct and summonsed to appear at court.
Northumberland Police Chief Superintendent Gordon Milward said: “Our aim was to facilitate the marches peacefully and with minimal disruption caused to local people. I think we achieved that, with events on the day passing safely and without any disorder.”
Police received widespread praise for their handling of the event, despite continued concerns about the cost of the policing operation.
Mr Haswell said: “It was extremely well policed. Senior officers had assured me beforehand they would handle it and that turned out to be the case.”
Ch Supt Millward said: “My staff on the ground received considerable positive comment from those who were working in or visiting the town. The people who took part in the marches worked constructively with my officers and I’d like to thank the people of Berwick for their patience and cooperation throughout Saturday.”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 10 July 2014
Hate attacks on Muslims in Britain quadrupled in the months after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby last year, a study by North-East academics has found.
Of the 734 anti-Muslim attacks reported to the Tell Mama charity hotline in a ten-month period to February this year, over half were in the two months after the drummer was stabbed to death in Woolwich in May 2013, the University of Teesside report shows.
Over half of the Islamophobic attacks in the period were committed against women, often targeted because they were wearing clothes people associate with Islam.
> Or more likely because they are seen as softer targets…I suspect the average heroic defender of our British way of life (whatever that is) would rather hit a woman or child than take on some hard-looking guy.
The report is published by the university’s centre for Fascist, anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies – the first research unit of its kind in the UK dedicated to the study of the far-right and its violent opposition.
It also comes just days after the far-right English Defence League marched through the streets of Middlesbrough in protest at what it described as “Muslim grooming gangs”.
Report authors Dr Matthew Feldman and research assistant Mark Littler said they found Muslims were facing hate crime, both online and in the streets, on a daily basis.
Dr Feldman said: “Muslims remain amongst the most likely minority group in Britain to be targeted for a hate crime. ‘Trigger’ events like the murder of Drummer Rigby clearly magnify the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims simply for who they are and what they believe.”
While police and government figures show that hate crime incidents are generally falling, those against Muslims appear to have significantly increased since the Tell MAMA project was set up in 2012.
The new report shows that less than one in six people who reported incidents to Tell MAMA actually went to the police.
It also reveals that 60 per cent of perpetrators were aged between ten and 30 – suggesting anti-Muslim prejudice among a younger generation raised in the shadow of 9/11 and 7/7.
Nearly half of all online incidents were linked to far right organisations.
Dr Feldman said he was most concerned about the fact that hate crime was being under-reported.
Fiyaz Mughal OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, said: “We know we are only getting a snapshot of what’s happening, but it is clear that fear and apprehension is evident among Muslim women.”
The report, titled ‘Anti-Muslim Overview, Analysis and Cumulative Extremism,’ will be officially launched at an event on Friday 4 July, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, at the Old Shire Hall in County Durham.
Source – Northern Echo, 01 July 2014
Berwick will be the location of another pair of demonstrations this summer as far-right groups announced intentions to march through the town.
Far-right groups the Scottish Defence League and the North East Infidels plan to travel to Berwick in order to hold a protest on July 5.
At a meeting last Friday Berwick Trades Union Council along with local anti-fascist campaigners discussed the two groups’ planned protest.
A statement was released expressing the council’s “revulsion and deep concern at the prospect of these fascist thugs once again invading our community with their messages of hate and division.
“In February last year Berwick put up a tremendous display of solidarity in opposing the SDL and EDL. The fascists on the other hand chanted racist slogans and caused mayhem in the town centre.”
The statement went on to call for a local response, which will be in the form of a counter demonstration in the same vein as last year.
“We call on all those who supported the anti- fascist demonstration last year to do the same this year but this time to make it even bigger and stronger. Let’s tell these racist thugs they are not welcome in our peaceful and inclusive community. We have an organising meeting on Friday June 20 open to all those groups and individuals in our community who want to show a collective opposition to the fascists.”
The visiting groups are describing their march as a Ban the Burka event, and are planning to wear balaclavas as a sign of protest.
The Berwick United Against Fascism group describe the SDL as a “racist group with an established record of mounting protests which regularly feature racist chanting, placards and Nazi salutes.”
The NEI, meanwhile, are deescribed as a “more openly racist and fascist than the EDL, splitting from it when its leader allowed Jews to join the EDL.”
They are led by Warren Faulkner, who describes himself as “the Islamic terminator and leftist beateruperer.”
There were five SDL arrests during the afternoon, and widespread discontent with the massive cost of policing the demonstrations after traffic through town was stopped.
In a letter to the ‘Advertiser’, resident Michael Stewart complained: “Who is footing the bill for the massive police presence in the town to control this unruly mob? I have a feeling it will be the taxpayer, so that helps to explain why the police precept element of the council tax is rising this year!”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 16 June 2014