Tagged: Muslims

Darlington food bank becomes a lifeline for local community

“We are here for the whole community – if anybody needs help, we will be there within 24 hours,” says Joel Likezo, Pastor of the Word of Life International Christian Centre.

After launching in the summer of 2013, the church, on Darlington’s Corporation Road, has become a lifeline for its community, providing help with family issues, fighting extremism and acting as a listening ear for anyone who needs it.

The church has also been working closely with King’s Church to tackle food poverty in the area, and its volunteer run food bank regularly attracts dozens of families needing emergency food and support.

We serve anyone who needs help, regardless of their faith,” says Pastor Likezo.

“There are many families in need and the food bank is here to help them.

“We launched around four months ago and the only down time we had was over Christmas.”

Being nestled in one of Darlington’s most ethnically diverse areas, the food bank not only reaches out to a range of different communities, including Asians and Africans, but a range of religions too.

It stocks a range of food donated by local supermarkets and private donors, as well as halal meat donated by local shops.

 “Many of the Asians here would never go to another food bank,” says Manjang Cham, the food bank’s coordinator.

“A lot of people who come here are Muslims, so we take into consideration about halal food.

“This is the only food bank with multiple nationalities. As a result, I have a good working relationship with people of different faiths.”

Sisters Carol and Judy Barker have been regulars at the food bank for around four weeks.

“Everyone here is really friendly and it is nice to come down to meet people,” says Carol, 54.

“If people need help they should not be scared to come down – people will help you.”

Volunteers at the food bank have also been working with Tracy Freeman, chief executive of homeless charity, First Stop Darlington, to explore ways of expanding the service.

“They are more than just a food bank, they are throwing their doors open to the community,” she says.

 “There is no way of knowing when you might need help. We are just the same people, I am no different to anybody else. Today I can help you, but tomorrow it might be me that needs help.”

The food bank is open every Saturday from 11.30am to 12.30pm.

Donations can be dropped off at the church, or collected by calling 07788-844-226.

Source –  Northern Echo, 19 Jan 2015

Berwick – We must continue to oppose fascism

Once again Berwick put up a magnificent display of solidarity in opposing the racist Scottish Defence League and their fascist friends the North East Infidels marching in our streets last Saturday.

 After our boisterous but good natured and orderly march up and down the town we held a rally at Marygate. The theme was “whose streets? our streets”, “whose town? our town”, “whose walls?” and so on.

In other words, the town belongs to us, not to shipped in, masked up fascists and racists who came from across Scotland and England to whip up racism in Berwick.

Our final rally at the Guildhall had Jim Herbert introduce a series of speakers: local trades unionists; Berwick Trades Union Council; Unite Against Fascism Scotland; Newcastle “People’s Assembly”; Berwick Migrant Support Group; and local people of no particular affiliation.

The speakers addressed many of the concerns of local people. The trades union council in particular has had some criticism on how best to deal with the fascists. Some have argued that it’s best to ignore them and they’ll eventually go away. And that they are only coming here to seek confrontation.

Many of our speakers, some of whom with a vast experience on this, explained that this is profoundly mistaken. History demonstrates that where they are ignored they grow, they gain confidence and locals inclined to these insidious views, on seeing no opposition, join them.

One of the reasons overtly fascist and racist parties have failed in the UK is precisely because of local opposition initiated by the trades union movement.

Berwick Trades Union Council and the RMT union branch are proud of standing in this fine tradition. To keep Berwick safe, diverse and welcoming “good people”, as Albert Einstein explained, have to do something to oppose evil.

The SDL and NEI have dedicated their hateful existence to attacking Asian people and Muslims. Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. It tries to divide us by scapegoating one community, just as the Nazis did with Jewish people in the 1930s.

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. We have to continue to oppose fascists when they march.

Messages of support were read out, including an anti-fascist message from Sir Alan Beith.

Phil Thompson, Secretary of Berwick & District TUC

Source – Berwick Advertiser, 12 July 2014

EDL racist thug fined for damaging mosque at Sunderland EDL rally

A racist thug has been fined for damaging a mosque after a far-right rally in Sunderland.

Connor McIntosh launched the attack on the Jami Masjid mosque in Chester Road, Sunderland, drunkenly kicking a drainpipe.

The 19-year-old had been at a demo over proposals for a new mosque in Millfield on March 30.

> What I dont get is why they were at the Jami Masjid mosque, and not the site of the proposed new mosque, some distance away ? 

Also, I’m told that the new mosque is for a  seperate strand of Islam than that followed at Jami Masjidrather like protesting about a new Baptist chapel  outside a Roman Catholic church.

Still, that’s the EDL for you – if you thought too deeply (or at all…) about such matters, they’d probably deny you membership on the grounds of being dangerously intellectual. EDL = Easily Distracted Loons.

He was arrested after being captured on CCTV lashing out at the building.

Sunderland magistrates were told how he ranted about Islam and bragged about being a member of the EDL during his interview with police.

He pleaded guilty to causing racially-aggravated criminal damage.

Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said McIntosh, an unemployed scrapman, was so drunk at first that he did not know why he had been arrested.

She said: “The defendant, when he was interviewed, was asked why he had been detained.

“He thought it was because he was too drunk, but then said there were too many mosques and they (Muslims) were grooming our kids.

“He said he had a child on the way and he did not want his child getting involved in all of that.

“Then he said the police should stop them burning our poppies.

“He confirmed he was a member of the EDL, and he was the male on the CCTV, and had ripped the pipe off the building himself.”

Jason Smith, defending, said father-to-be McIntosh, of Heathgate, Houghton-le-Spring, had never been in trouble before.

He said: “Usually, this is a matter that should have been dealt with by way of a caution.

“I accept the reason why it was not is because of the nature of the allegation, and because of his involvement with the EDL.”

Mr Smith told magistrates that the protest McIntosh had been to was organised with the “understanding” of the police and that McIntosh had the right to air his views.

He added: “Unfortunately, he had a bit too much to drink, and at the end of the march he caused damage to the drainpipe, then he walked away.

“He did not cause any more damage and he did not shout and swear or abuse anyone.”

McIntosh was fined £110 and ordered to pay £100 compensation to the mosque, along with £85 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

Source – Shields Gazette   19 April 2014

Billy Bragg defends decision to host UKIP rally at Sage Gateshead

UKIP has found an unlikely ally in left-wing musician Billy Bragg after a move to host its largest ever rally at the SageGateshead.

The venue’s management was attacked on social media for itsdecision to provide the venue for the party’s spring meeting on St George’s Day in April.

After critics on the social networking site Twitter said the organisation had a “moral obligation” not to allow UKIP leader Nigel Farage to assemble his party on Tyneside,  Bragg waded into the online spat to support the Sage.

Responding to online questioning, Mr Bragg – who regularly plays at the venue and was part of its recent poster campaign – wrote: “I don’t have a problem with it.

“We shouldn’t be complacent about UKIP, but denying them the right to hold meetings is not the way forward. Don’t UKIP have the right of assembly?”

> He may have a point – UKIP is home to so many fruitcakes that giving them the opportunity of making prats of themselves in public might be a good thing. 

The meeting on the evening of April 23 will be the largest public meeting ever to be held by the party and its “early bird” free tickets have already been snapped up.

The Eurosceptic party has previously held a North East conference in Tynemouth but Nigel Farage will be speaking in person at this event.

> If anywhere in Tyne & Wear was going to host a UKIP conference,  you’d have bet on it being Tynemouth  😉

After by-election successes across the country, Mr Farage has said he hopes to make considerable gains in May’s local and European elections.

Messages left for the Sage online from the public prompted the organisation’s general director Anthony Sargent to clarify his stance on hosting political events.

The music and concert venue has previously been booked to hold the meetings of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats and Mr Sargent said: “Picking and choosing between political views would be an indefensible position and that really would be letting the local community down.

“We need to give these people a platform, then trust the democratic process to separate the wheat from the chaff. We have no opinion on UKIP nor do we on the Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrats.”

Quoting political philosopher John Stuart Mill, he added: “There’s a very basic freedom of speech right in the UK which is prized by the British whether or not you agree with a set of opinions. It’s a foundational right living in Britain that you have the right to express yourself.”

One critic of the planned conference, Alan Verth, wrote on Twitter that Sage needed to consider its “moral obligations to community” while a user of the site calling himself Trevstanley called it a“disgusting” move and would not be visiting the Sage again.

Mr Verth wrote: “I’m not happy with my home town hosting this as it goes against everything I stand for.”

Newcastle-based singer Gem Andrews, who released her debut last year, also took to Twitter to ask people to campaign against UKIP meeting on Tyneside.

Meanwhile…

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has disowned proposals from one of his MEPs for Muslims to be asked to sign a charter rejecting violence.

Gerard Batten, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee, said he stood by the “charter of Muslim understanding” which he co-authored in 2006 and which states that parts of the Koran which promote “violent physical jihad” should be regarded as “inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic”.

His comments sparked criticism from Muslim groups and UKIP’s political opponents.

The Conservative leader in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall, who is himself a Muslim, left a letter on Mr Batten’s empty seat at the Parliament chamber in Strasbourg, sarcastically offering him a guarantee that he had no intention to commit acts of violence.

Mr Farage said: “This was a private publication from Gerard Batten in 2006 and its contents are not and never have been UKIP policy.”

> Fruitcakes, the whole lot of them…

Source – Newcastle Journal  06 Feb 2014