Far-right groups take to social media in effort to shut down anti-Islamophobia conference
Far-right bullies are throwing their weight around on Facebook and Twitter in a hate-filled bid to get venues to scrap events organised by Muslims.
BNP offshoot Britain First and EDL affiliates Casuals United, a mob of football hooligans, were condemned yesterday for forcing organisers of a conference about “tackling the alarming rise of Islamophobia in the UK” to cancel the event.
Birkbeck College pulled the conference, scheduled for today, saying that it couldn’t pull together enough guards in time, organisers the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said.
Both Britain First and the Casuals had used social media to encourage a mass demonstration outside the college.
It will go ahead at an alternative venue, which the IHRC didn’t want to publicise in case the racist thugs came knocking.
IHRC chairman Massoud Shadjareh told the Star it was a growing problem, with rightwingers using “bullying tactics” on social media sites to scupper events and intimidate Muslim communities across Britain.
“Unfortunately it’s happening far too often,” he said. “But when venues decide to buckle under far-right pressure all that does is encourage these groups to continue bullying.”
He said that along with cancelled conferences by other Muslim organisations, far-right groups have also managed to sabotage harmless outings.
Even a children’s trip to Legoland for Muslim families earlier this year had to be called off following multiple threats by the EDL and Casuals.
Mr Shadjareh noted a score of events targeted by rightwingers in the last two years including one in Newcastle, a Muslim retreat in Birmingham and events at the universities of Reading, Essex and Nottingham, some of which were forced to be cancelled.
At the latest event at Birkbeck College, it is claimed that officials dragged IHRC staff into a meeting on Wednesday with a council anti-extremism officer.
IHRC says it saw little reason for the officer to be involved in a private matter between itself and the college instead of tackling the immediate threats to a legitimate and peaceful event.
The group accused Birkbeck of “bowing to Islamophobic pressure.
“It is staggering to think that an Islamophobia conference held in an academic arena can itself become the victim of institutional Islamophobia at so many levels.”
Unison Birkbeck, which represents support staff at the college, has written a letter to IHRC stating it is “very concerned about the behaviour of Birkbeck College” towards the organisers.
“We will be writing to management at Birkbeck asking them to explain their actions and expressing our severe concern at the cancellation,” wrote Unison Birkbeck joint branch secretary Steven Ellis.
Soas Anarchist Student Society’s Adam Barr claimed that the council officer was called in because police were worried about students’ counter-demonstration.
The conference, which is being supported by 19 Muslim and non-Muslim organisations including the Campaign against Criminalising Communities, is due to feature speeches by leading academics in the fields of race relations, Islamophobia, multiculturalism and securitisation, exploring and suggesting responses to the soaring levels of Islamophobia in Britain.
Birkbeck College said it cancelled the event due to health and safety concerns of both staff and the local community.