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Churches Challenge Britain First ‘Christian Patrol’

posted by: Peter Adams | on: Thursday, 28 January 2016, 15:01


Last Saturday Britain First held one of its notorious ‘Christian Patrols’ in Luton. In typical paramilitary garb, 20 activists led by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen marched though the heart of Bury Park, the commercial centre of the town’s Asian community.

Handing out literature and heckling bystanders, they verbally abused a number of women with children and picked enough arguments to produce some good sound bites for a nine minute video. When the video went live later that evening it had a million views in the first hour; 48 hours later it had 18 million.

It was Britain First’s fourth visit to our town in less than two years. The group carried out a ‘mosque invasion’ in May 2014; then a small protest outside the same mosque in June 2015; and a demonstration later that month where 100-150 followers, carrying trademark flags and crosses, marched from the station and down a few backstreets to a car park, before coming back again.

As we prepared for their 2015 visit, it was clear that Britain First traded off a strong - if from our view, wildly distorted - Christian narrative. Look at Britain First's Facebook page and scattered among the stories of nasty Muslims, all things quaint and little kittens, and you will find Christian memes, Bible verses and worship songs. It’s convincing enough for the unwary to share with Facebook friends, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to drop Christian friends of mine a note to tell them what they are supporting.

Christians of Luton

Back in 2015 we wrote an open letter to Britain First, asking their activists not to come to Luton – that as Christians here we didn’t need them. Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen subsequently came to meet with us.

We sought to understand their intentions and address their concerns. We spoke to them as fellow Christians, though we were very clear that we profoundly disagreed with the way they understood their faith. We told them how, as Christians in Luton, we sought to live peacefully and as good neighbours, despite clear differences in our faiths; and of our shared work to deal with extremism and other issues they regularly raised.

Britain First's march in Luton

Britain First's march in Luton

In some ways it was a useful exercise, and no one could say we hadn’t tried, but predictably it was fruitless – no sooner had they finished than they videoed outside our church and then proceeded to drive into Bury Park, filming themselves harassing locals again. Still, our Muslim friends thanked us for our efforts. On the day Britain First visited last summer you would have found 30 local Christian leaders out and about in the community, mediating on the edges of the demo and counter demo, and generally working for the peace of the town.

It was obvious this weekend that we needed again to challenge the impact of Britain First's so-called ‘Christian Patrol’. David Kesterton, the local vicar in Bury Park, had already seen them, so working together we called church leaders to gather in Bury Park after church the next day, and asked local Muslim leaders to join us. Thus it was a group of some 25 gathered with arms full of flowers and a statement to pass out to those on the street and local shopkeepers who’d borne the brunt of the action the previous day. We were able to speak to some of the women and children abused, hear the stories of shopkeepers who’d been drawn into argument, and generally restore some sense of normality.

Acts of friendship

Simple acts of friendship but with profound consequences for those we spoke to, multiplied now across social media. We’ve been thanked on the streets, received emails and endless comments on social media, and letters of thanks from schoolchildren. The 200,000 views on various videos doesn’t quite reach the Britain First tally, but everyone locally seems to have seen it, and is talking about it.

But in the end it wasn’t about publicity but doing the right thing – being good neighbours. That message doesn’t seem to have been read by the so-called Christian Patrollers, who are convinced we are tree hugging, sandal wearing, politically correct hippies, appeasing Muslims and traitors to our faith.

p.s. A number of those involved in our declaration went straight on to Luton's Holocaust Memorial Day event. The challenge of the day this year is #DontStandBy. As we reflected on a generation of Jewish people decimated, we were challenged again: we dare not stand by while hatred and bigotry becomes embedded in our nation.

Peter Adams works in community peace-building and reconciliation based at St Mary's Church Luton. Since the EDL began in Luton in 2009 he's been engaging the community to deal with the roots of extremism @petergmadams

Christian leaders along with various members of the Luton community express their views on Britain Firsts visit to Bury Park Luton on Sat 23rd January. Credit: Inspire FM - Luton

Peace statement

Peace statement

 Posted: 28 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Middle England Organisers Two roles

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 28 January 2016, 10:26


HOPE not hate are recruiting two community organisers for an exciting new project seeking to give voice to the positive voices of HOPE within communities that have begun to be referred to as 'Middle England'. More information can be downloaded below.

These roles are full time and are fixed term for a period of 18 months

 Posted: 28 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Don't Stand By -- your comments

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 14:38


Thousands of HOPE not hate supporters have today pledged to Don't Stand By and commit to doing what they can to oppose extremism and hatred today. Below are a few of the comments people have left about why they are making the pledge.

You can make your own pledge here

As a teacher of some 30 years I think it is important to get this message of "Don't Stand By' across. I was very privileged to go to Auschwitz - Birkenau in 1999 on the first "Lessons From Auschwitz " visit organised by The Holocaust Educational Trust. It is an experience I will never forget. We all need to challenge hatred, prejudice and discrimination whenever and wherever we see it. Let us stand together, not just today, but every day to do just that.
Janet, Leicester

Because more than 100 years ago my great grandfather came to Britain to escape oppression.
Because the weekend before last racists attacked our local mosque and an old man said he didn't feel safe any more.
Because last weekend the community showed their solidarity with the local Muslim community at the mosque with tea, cards and flowers.
There are many people willing to take sides and every individual has to show where they stand. Silence is not an option.
Rachel, Bristol

We must remember, to continue to remind ourselves of the lives that were lost in the name of Hate, now and forever remember and act so we fight for the light of freedom, peace and a hate free society.
Mark, Essex

My whole family except for my mother were murdered in Auschwitz which yo me is the appalling inhumanity to man that has taken place. My fun appointment is that nations promise they would never let this happen ever again, yet time and time again on the News we hear of similar murders being committed in countries all over the world along with millions brung starved to death by their Governments. Not yo mention the inhumane humiliation that sufferers are forced to endure when being tortured before put yo death.
Why has the human race not learnt from the Holocaust? Shame on mankind. Animals behave better than we do.
Jo, Hull

I was greatly impressed by the story of Oskar Schindler as told in the exhibition at his old factory in Krakow. This man who had saved hundreds of Jews, at first because he wanted cheap labour and then out of compassion, spending a large amount of his wealth in doing so, was later plagued by feelings of guilt that he had still had some money left which meant that some Jews had died that he could have saved. I feel the same.
John, Birmingham

If you do not speak how can others listen? Your thoughts mean nothing until expressed, and the actions that go along with them show everyone that you mean what you say. All victims of suffering have suffered for us because they have absorbed the hate, let's keep on working to destroy hate's foundations.
Graham, Northampton

Whilst there have been other genocides, the Holocaust remains the most horrific of them all - the systematic and brutal extermination of European Jewry by Nazi Germany. Among the estimated 6 million who were killed in Europe were my parents, sister and virtually all my relatives after leading entirely blameless lives. I was rescued by having been nominated to go to England on the first Kindertransport to leave Berlin on November 1st, 1938.
Those atrocities by members of a country with a long cultural tradition must never be forgotten and act as a warning that such things could - and indeed have - happen again. They are also relevant to the present refugee crisis, which Europe is so disastrously .slow to tackle. Does the world ever learn??
Leslie, London

Today I'll be working with Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics,Jews, Buddhists and we'll be dancing together. Labels fall off like autumn leaves, but it's an act of resistance!
Sue, South London

My mother was taken as a 14year old from her home in the Ukraine for use as slave labour by the Nazis and suffered the pain of going through Auschwitz for "sorting". She was lucky as she has blue eyes and ended up in Germany as a farm worker. She still at 89 has nightmares from those years as slave labour.
Olga, Rotherham

We must remember the suffering of so many at the hands of the haters so that we do not allow the same atrocities to happen or for hatred to build to the point in makes people blind to other humans. Practice kindness and caring not hate and humiliation to make the planet a better place for all.
Joanne, Cambridge

 Posted: 27 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Don’t Stand By

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Tuesday, 26 January 2016, 08:50


#HMD2016

Elie Wiesel: I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Today is the day when people around the world pause to remember the Holocaust. 71 years ago today the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site where 1.1 million people (mainly Jews) were exterminated, was liberated by the advancing Soviet Army.

This came after the dismantled camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka had already been found. Advancing from the West, the American forces liberated Buchenwald and the British liberated Bergen-Belsen. Entering the camp at Belsen in mid-April 1945 along with the British soldiers was the BBC journalist Richard Dimbleby, father of Jonathan and David Dimbleby:

Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live.

Testimonies such as this, along with the now thousands of invaluable testimonies by survivors, remind us that, as stated in the Stockholm Declaration that formed Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘The Holocaust fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilization’ and: ‘The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning.’

Never forget

We have an obligation to never forget. Having seen the harrowing footage of dead bodies being pushed into mass graves by bulldozers and the pictures of skeletal bodies too emaciated to move, it is hard to imagine that these events could ever be forgotten or denied. Yet from the moment that the news of Nazi atrocities began to leak out in the 1930s and 1940s there were people eager to deny them, to revise and falsify history, to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators. Such despicable attempts continue to this day: we must be loud and clear in condemning such sickening denial and preserve the truth through memorial and education.

This is something that the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in the UK has been working tirelessly to do. Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January every year) has increasingly become part of national life in Britain, with the 2015 national remembrance event being televised and watched by 1.3 million people. The Prime Minister and head of all the main opposition parties, as well as Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended. In addition to the national event were over 3600 local events taking place in schools, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, prisons, libraries, universities, work places and many other places.

Yet while our consciousness of the Holocaust may be on the rise we still face major challenges. Seven decades after the liberation of the camps we are sadly approaching a time when there will be no living witnesses to the Holocaust. This makes it more important than ever that we challenge those who seek to deny this unique historical event and we keep the memory alive for future generations.

It is still imperative that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust. Out of the ashes of a destroyed continent, forever marred by the gas chambers of Auschwitz, came an historic agreement based on the idea that fundamental rights for all humans required formal protection. In 1948 the newly formed United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the preamble to which stated that the:

‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people’

In 1948 the UN also adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and shortly afterward another newly-formed international body, the Council of Europe, set about giving effect to the UN Declarations in a European context and the resulting European Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1950.

Universal lessons

While the Holocaust was a unique tragedy for the Jewish people, it provides universal lessons for all. We must remember the other victims of Nazi persecution: the Gypsies (Roma) and black people who lived in Germany. Slavic people were dismissed as Untermenschen. Extreme ideas associated with eugenics were used to justify the persecution of disabled and gay people. The Nazis also targeted political opponents – primarily communists, trade unionists and social democrats – and those whose religious beliefs conflicted with Nazi ideology, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today is a day to remember these people as well.

But more than that we must face the terrible fact that despite the declared aims after the war, such as the laudable Genocide Convention – the ‘Never Again’ convention – these conventions have been tragically violated time and time again. As such today is also a day that we should remember the subsequent genocides.

We must remember Cambodia, were between 1975 and 1979 well over two million people perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. We must also remember Rwanda, where in just 100 days in 1994 approximately one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by mobs, sometimes even neighbours, using machetes and clubs. We must remember Bosnia between 1992 and 1995, and the Srebrenica genocide when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred. And we must remember Darfur, where the mass slaughter and rape of Darfuri men, women and children in western Sudan has been condemned as genocide by the International Criminal Court.

We should remember, but also do everything we can to learn the lessons of history.

Don’t Stand By

It is for this reason that this year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK is ‘Don’t Stand By’. Many will remember the words of Martin Niemöller, the outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camps.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak for me.

These words should stand as a haunting reminder that passivity in the face of persecution, intolerance, prejudice and violence is what allows horrors such as the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides to take place.

http://dontstandby.hmd.org.uk



Joe Mulhall is a research analyst at HOPE not hate as well as a guest lecturer
at Royal Holloway, University of London, associated with their Holocaust Research Centre, and a Trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust @JoeMulhall


MAKE A COMMITMENT TO NOT STAND BY CLICK HERE

 Posted: 26 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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We Stand #Together across Europe

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 25 January 2016, 08:06


In less than two weeks, on 6 February, Pegida plan to march in Birmingham and at least 11 other European countries.

We could allow 6 February to be portrayed in national and European, traditional and social media as the day when few, but strong voices of fear and hate were heard the loudest. Or we could actually make it the day when a positive, diverse, pan-European movement of voices came #TOGETHER to show that We Are The Many and We Choose HOPE.

We've already had a great response from diverse communities across Birmingham coming together for #OurBrum http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/birmingham

Now it's the time we stand united, #Together across Europe.

So, HOPE not hate is joining forces with ENAR (the European Network Against Racism) and other likeminded organisations and individuals so that, on 6 February, our pan-European voices of HOPE sound louder than the shouts of hate and scaremongering coming from far right and populist, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim groups.

But we need you too. So join us @Together1Europe – a network of pan-European anti-racist, anti-fascist, social justice and human & migrant rights organisations – in a Thunderclap that will go live at 12 noon GMT, on Saturday, 6 February.

Add your voice now at www.thunderclap.it/projects/37008-together-one-europe

For our positive, inclusive message to trend on social media across Europe we encourage everyone:

  • to share the Thunderclap message on your various social media platforms and ask your wider networks to do the same
  • attach pictures of your family and friends holding posters reading "#Together” in English and as many other languages as possible -- "Ensemble", "Insieme", "Juntos", "Zusammen", "Împreună", “Közösen”, “Tillsammans”, etc.

6 February is not just about standing in solidarity with the Muslim communities of Europe. It is about the street, village, city, country and continent we want to live in and about celebrating all the values and ideals that bring us TOGETHER in a modern, tolerant Europe.

So join us and let’s transform division into new grassroots conversations, more trust, confidence and unity being built between our diverse communities.

@Together1Europe: a positive, pan-European coalition of hearts and minds coming TOGETHER against Pegida's fear and hate! Add your voice now www.thunderclap.it/projects/37008-together-one-europe

 Posted: 25 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The English Are Coming

posted by: Richard Jordan | on: Sunday, 24 January 2016, 09:10


Right to Robinson with a cigarette: Lars Grønbæk Larsen, leader of the Danish Defence League.

Right to Robinson with a cigarette: Lars Grønbæk Larsen, leader of the Danish Defence League.

With the launch of Pegida UK just weeks away the leaders, EDL founder Stephen Lennon, (aka Tommy Robinson), Liberty GB leader Paul Weston, and Sharia Watch UK Director Anne Marie Waters, made their way to a freezing Copenhagen to try and build support for a Danish branch of the anti-Islam group that was originally formed in Dresden, Germany.

Strangely today’s demonstration in Denmark was organised from Britain with instructions for the day being posted on the events Facebook page by Jack Buckby, the Press Officer of Pegida UK and Liberty GB. There were no Danish speakers at the event.

Unfortunately for the English trio, just 100 people turned up, which would have no doubt been a disappointment. Among the tiny audience was the leader of the Danish Defence League Lars Grønbæk Larsen and a contingent from the extreme right wing Danmarks Nationale Front.

Also present were a number of Swedes, including Dan Park, the ‘artist’ who has been arrested, fined and sentenced to prison for hate speech. Also over from Sweden was Ingrid Carlqvist, a ‘Distinguished Senior Fellow’ of the US-based Gatestone Institute and editor-in-chief of Dispatch International, a newspaper she founded with a leading Dutch ‘counter-jihad’ activist Lars Hedegaard. Just recently she has written articles about what she calls ‘Afghan ‘Rapefugees’.

After the demonstration Lennon, Weston and Waters went for drinks with Carlqvist in nearby ‘The Scottish Pub’.

As is usual with these types of demonstrations there was a vocal and confrontational counter demonstration by local anti-fascist, which at times drowned out the speeches forcing them to abandon the loud haler and instead opt for a microphone; a switch that took some time.

Lennon’s speech was similar to those he gave in his old EDL days, with talk of a ‘military invasion of Europe’ by Muslims. His speech was followed by a long and slow march through Copenhagen that proved to be eventful. The march was flanked on both sides by anti-fascists chanting ‘Refugees Welcome’ and ‘Where’s your famous EDL?’, forcing the police to use considerable force to hold them back.

Then, as the march turned a corner into a narrow street, Lennon pointed to an anti-fascist screaming at him from behind the police lines and said, ‘come here and say that’. Agreeing to his request the anti-fascist bolted past the police and attacked him. Demonstrators from behind Lennon jumped to his defence followed quickly by baton wielding police.

Once order was restored the march returned to the start point for speeches by Weston and Waters. Weston’s gave a peculiar talk mainly aimed at attacking the counter-demonstrators for being communists followed by some strange conspiratorial claims that the UN was working to destroy all national borders and take control of the world. With so few people in the crowd he seemed to loose his enthusiasm and finished by saying, “that’s enough, I need a pint”.

Waters then took the microphone and gave a speech about women’s rights to a bemused looking audience made up almost exclusively of men. Her speech reached its crescendo with an attack against the ‘so called feminists’ on the counter-demonstration.

The demonstration finished with Lennon urging those present to return to the site on the 6th February to show solidarity with Pegida demonstrations being organised in the UK and across Europe.

The PegidaDK event in two weeks will also have a British presence as Gavin Boby, the self styled ‘Mosque Buster’, being billed to speak.

While the demonstration was a failure in terms of attendance it is further evidence of the genuinely transnational nature of the counter-jihad movement. Activists from the UK organised an event in Denmark where they met with a prominent figure from Sweden. Similarly Lennon met with German activists in Prague in December.

In addition, today confirms the fact that Lennon, following a period of hiatus – partly forced due to prison sentences and partly self-imposed – is well and truly back at the centre of the international ‘counter-jihad’ scene. Today’s speech in Copenhagen comes off the back of appearances at Pegida Dresden, the launch of Pegida Holland and the Anti-Islam Bloc in the Czech Republic.

However, the tiny numbers at today’s event do not show the whole picture. Just last week the Danish government announced plans to further tighten its immigration policy including measures to force refugees to hand over valuables upon their arrival. On Friday, the Danish city of Randers, 210km northwest of Copenhagen, has ordered pork to be mandatory on municipal menus following a council motion proposed by the right wing populist Danish People’s Party.

Similarly tough lines are being taken by governments in central Europe with the Czech President Miloš Zeman even attending a demonstration by the Anti-Islam Bloc in Prague in December. Such acts have made him, along with the PM of Hungary Viktor Orban, heroes of the ‘counter-jihad’ movement. Even today Paul Weston, who vociferously attacked western governments and the EU for their refugee policy, made an exception for the governments of central Europe.

So while it is important to monitor the activities of groups like Pegida - especially as they become more international in their reach - it is imperative not to ignore the wider picture and the increasingly pervasive nature of anti-Muslim sentiment which is no longer just emanating from extremist street protest groups but also from mainstream commentators and Presidents and Prime Ministers of EU countries.

Heavy police protection of the demo.

Heavy police protection of the demo.

 Posted: 24 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Killer Breivik caught with weapons in 2009

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 January 2016, 13:27


Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

A German filmmaker has claimed that Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people during a bombing and shooting spree in Norway in 2011, was actually picked up but later released by German police in possession of weapon parts and ammunition in 2009.

The filmmaker, Daniel Harrich, claims that Breivik was stopped during a routine check outside the Germany city of Wetzlar, north of Frankfurt, and while the ammunition and some weapons parts were confiscated, Breivik was allowed to keep some parts that could not be directly tied to a functioning weapon.

According to Harrich’s sources, the ammunition and some weapons parts were confiscated from Breivik while he was allowed to keep some parts that could not be directly tied to a functioning weapon.

The Norwegian authorities were never alerted to this information, either at the time or after Breivik's terrorist attack, and this has understandably caused a political storm in the country.

 Posted: 15 Jan 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Bound for Britain?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 13 January 2016, 10:23


Vicky Pearson

Vicky Pearson

HOPE not hate can exclusively reveal that Bound for Glory, America’s leading white power band, is set to play in Scotland later this year. It will be their first ever gig in the UK and though the event is not until October, anticipation is such that tickets are already being sold.

The venue – which is believed to be in Edinburgh – can take as many as 800 people and organisers are hoping for a near sell-out crowd. This would make it the largest ever white power gig ever held in Scotland.

Several hundred German and other European Nazis are expected to make the trip over to Scotland, as will hundreds of English Blood and Honour supporters, all keen to seen the American white power band for the first time.

Organising the gig is London-based Vicky Pearson, a veteran of the Blood and Honour nazi skinhead scene, though in more recent years has moved into organised allegedly non-political Oi gigs under her the British Oi! Productions banner.

Pearson is organising the gig with her Scottish-based boyfriend Thomas Stenhouse, better known on the skinhead scene as Steny.

Last year, Pearson, who has put on two or three events a year for the last few years, announced that she was calling it a day. However, the chance of a big money pay out with Bound for Glory has obviously made her reconsider her position.

Bound For Glory is a Minnesota-based white power band that was formed in 1989 and became one of the most high profile groups on the scene. The band is led by Ed Wolbank, at one time the director of the nazi Northern Hammerskins.

Their original vocalist Erik Banks, was murdered in 1993 in Portland, Oregon.

The band originally operated under their own Bound for Glory (BFG) Productions label but this was sold to Panzerfaust Records, a huge distributor of hardline nazi music, in 2005. The band disappeared in 2007 but re-emerged in 2011 with tours across the US and Germany. It was the first white power band to play in Japan.

Over the years it has produced nine albums and two collaboration albums with support from other well-known nazi musicians from the US, UK and Germany.

Though central to the white power scene and traditionally a nazi skinhead band, Bound for Glory’s music has become more recently described as a thrash metal. However, it has lost none of its nazi politics, with one recent song called ‘Behold the Iron Cross’.

Vicky Pearson is gambling a lot on the outcome of this gig. It is rumoured that Bound for Glory has demanded thousands of dollars to appear and a considerable down payment has already been made for the venue.

If the event goes ahead as planned it will be a huge pay day for Vicky. It if doesn’t then she might regret having come out of retirement.

 Posted: 13 Jan 2016 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The Disappearing Extremists

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 6 January 2016, 12:52


(left) Abu Rumaysah, (insert top) Dr Mirza Tariq Ali, (inset bottom) Junaid Hussain

(left) Abu Rumaysah, (insert top) Dr Mirza Tariq Ali, (inset bottom) Junaid Hussain

After the initial rush to name the Islamic State’s new “Jihadi John” as Abu Rumaysah, the media’s attention has switched to how this former al-Muhajiroun member and his family had skipped the country just a day after he had been released on bail.

Having been arrested for allegedly belonging to a proscribed organisation, he was supposed to surrender all travel documents. Yet whilst on bail he managed to travel to Paris, then Syria, without being stopped.

What is even more embarrassing – or strange depending on your point of view – is that Abu Rumaysah had made no secret of his desire to reach the Islamic State (IS). Just weeks before he disappeared, on 14 August 2014, he said in a Channel 4 News interview that he would be willing to denounce his British citizenship in order to go out to Syria and live in “the Islamic State” under “the Shariah”.

A leading figure within al-Muhajiroun, he said he was prevented from leaving by the security services. Even after his release from police custody, on Friday 26 September, Abu Rumaysah repeated his desire to leave. He stated it openly on Twitter, claiming that it would be to everyone’s benefit if he left the country.

On the evening of 26 September, with his bags packed, Abu Rumaysah signed off Twitter and set off, resurfacing in Syria in November 2014 and posting a picture of himself on Twitter with his new-born child in one hand and a Kalashnikov in the other.

Yet we can reveal he was one of at least six leading al Muhajiroun activists who have either left the country whilst on bail, or on travel bans to join an overseas terrorist group, since April 2014. Many have joined terrorist groups.

A few months before Abu Rumaysah fled to Syria, Dr Mirza Tariq Ali skipped bail and made his way to Pakistan where he became leader of a militant Taliban group.

Tariq Ali had been the formal head of al Muhajiroun’s Sharia4Pakistan group, composed almost entirely of activists from London. The group attracted considerable media attention in November 2012 when it claimed to be issuing a fatwa against Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who had been shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to demand education for girls. Tariq Ali was reported killed in a drone strike last March.

Another al-Muhajiroun activist who skipped police bail and fled to Syria was Luton-based Abu Rahin Aziz, who had been arrested and later convicted in his absence for his part in a sectarian attack on two Shia Muslim men along the Edgware Road, in London.

Aziz, who went on to refer to himself as Abu Abdullah al-Britani whilst out in Syria, was a leading activist in "Muslims against Crusaders", an al-Muhajiroun front organisation that set fire to poppies on Armistice Day back in 2010 and who protested against British troops returning from Afghanistan.

It is thought Aziz fled the UK via Amsterdam in the company of Junaid Hussain, from Birmingham, who had also skipped bail pending an investigation for violent disorder, before travelling on to Turkey, where he crossed over the Syrian border.

In July 2015 Abu Rahin Aziz was killed in a drone attack while the following month Junaid Hussain, now using the nom-de-guerre Abu Hussain al-Britaini, was also killed in a US air force attack. Security service sources told the media at the time that Junaid Hussain was not only a hacker with the Team Poison hacking group but also a prominent member of the Islamic State.

More recently, key al-Muhajiroun activists Trevor Brooks (Abu Izzadeen) and Simon Keeler (Sulayman Keeler) were arrested on a train in Hungary, travelling towards Romania, in what was believed to have been an attempt to get to Syria. Both had been banned from leaving the UK and both had previous convictions for terrorist offences.

In July 2015 Keeler was cleared at an Old Bailey trial, having been accused of attempting to leave Britain on a false passports to join IS, after being found in the back of a lorry along with another al-Muhajiroun activist.

With at least six prominent members of al-Muhajiroun having been able to slip out of Britain whilst on bail or having been banned from leaving, questions need answering. One absconding is a worry, two appears careless but six – well, that needs answering.

* Next month, HOPE not hate will release a new report entitled: Cheerleading for IS: al-Muhajiroun and the Islamic State

 Posted: 6 Jan 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments