FLA Violent Agenda Exposed

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Matthew Wilkinson, a senior administrator close to leader John Meighan has revealed via Twitter that the Football Lads Alliance (or FLA) are “building up the numbers peacefully” before engaging in what supporter Stipple calls “action”.  Many already believe this to be the case, the massed-ranks of the united football hooligan organisation quietly developing a significant fighting force which will be unleashed at a suitable time to wreak havoc upon society while seeking the right moment to turn their mob deliberately violent.  With attendees already outnumbering police, the sudden change in tactics will catch police unaware, ensuring full-scale rioting ensues.

Stipple says: – “Action is required, not silent marches”.

Matthew Wilkinson (FLA Admin) replies: “Build up the numbers peacefully”.

Stipple then adds: “I agree that we must get numbers, but I’m spitting feathers”.

Matthew Wilkinson then replies, in agreement: “I think everyone hears you, Stipple”, giving him the thumbs up of approval icon.

The implication is clear: – Once the numbers of hooligans marching are great enough, the restraint will vanish, and violent action will become the norm.

On another thread, Matthew admits he admins the secret FLA Facebook group, a group which the authorities will no-doubt be keeping a very firm eye on, especially having been informed by this article of their extremist plot.

When this eventually happens, and 40-50,000 angry white men are weaponised to unleash extreme violence upon the streets of the capital (or elsewhere) the government and the Metropolitan Police must be prepared to act to stop people from being seriously injured or killed.  All it would take is a stand-off against non-white passers-by to escalate into an angry episode and the nod to be given by FLA organisers to break through police lines and all hell will break loose.

Rightwing football hooligans are ready-made fighting units.  Differences set aside to oppose “their common enemy”, the consequences of an organised group running free through city streets are easy to understand.  When a future FLA demo becomes a large-scale riot, the government must be prepared to act with the necessary swiftness to protect society and come down hard on the FLA leadership utilising the full force of the law.

A deliberate plot to build up a private army of boots and fists peacefully, linking rival hooligan firms to engage in future acts of organised racial disorder in massed-numbers when the time is right, amounts to both terrorism and even the offence of treason. The Home Office will be compelled to act to ensure all plotters receive lengthy prison sentences for such actions, when they finally happen.

Years spent in solitary confinement likely await the conspirators with all football hooligans involved in the movement more than likely receiving life-bans from stadiums. Whenever Matthew Wilkinson and cohorts intend to unleash ultra-violence, society must be ready to act firmly and swiftly to protect minorities and punish guilty parties severely.

A mere glance at the FLA’s Facebook page reveals the regular presence of Frank Portinari, the convicted gun-runner who tried to sell deadly weapons to the Unionist terrorist group the UDA.  A week before the previous FLA demo, a Hope Not Hate photographer pictured him in a Central London pub chatting to supporters of the FLA.

Portinari was a member of neo-Nazi Hitleresque organisation Combat 18, siding with Charlie Sergeant in the split which occurred, Sergeant later exposed as a police informer spying on loyalist terrorists in England.

After what happened at Charlottesville, USA, police and government security forces throughout Europe are keeping a keen look-out for far right terror plots. They are fully aware of the ramifications of allowing such groups to develop unchecked.  A common theme of fascist groups operating on social media is the promise of racial warfare, the premise that battalions of angry white men will rise up in a deadly battle against non-whites (and their liberal “defenders”), actioning a revolution and a dictatorship by Adolf Hitler-type genocidal extremists.  Although this is almost certainly not going to happen, any episodes of unchecked violent outrage against Muslims and other minorities will have catastrophic implications for community relations. The deceitful haters are more than aware that it is the minority groups who will bear the brunt of this chaos.

Right-wing trolls continually mutter “Islam is not a race” whilst hardcore neo-Nazis and white supremacists continue to switch (albeit temporarily) from anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, viewing anti-Muslim hate as their best chance for success in an increasingly paranoid pro Brexit, pro Trump world. Bearing in mind that 95% of British Muslims are non-white and a visible ethnic minority regularly vilified by the British gutter press, it is easy to understand how latching onto public unease over Islamic extremist groups and sailing with the extreme right-wing agenda of Katie Hopkins and the Daily Mail offers far more promise than selling copies of Mein Kampf to small handfuls of National Socialists outside Blood and Honour concerts.

Openly neo-Nazi organisations such as the Pie and Mash squad are already taking part in FLA demonstrations. They are expecting something violent to happen in the not too distant future, or frankly, they wouldn’t be there.

Now the FLA’s true intent has been well and truly exposed, there is little that convicted hooligan John Meighan can do to sweep this damning admittance of violent intent under the carpet, other than pretending Wilkinson is not a key member of his dangerous street protest organisation, which he most certainly is. Just as Diane Abbott and the trade unionists feared all along, the presently peaceful FLA are a Trojan horse for future, organised mayhem.

It doesn’t matter how many Gurkhas the FLA get on their marches as window-dressing, now they have come clean about dropping their sanitised front and acknowledged they are ready and willing to unleash violence when protest numbers reach critical mass, Meighan’s Blackshirts are ready and waiting for trouble…

If unopposed.

NO PASARAN

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Acceptance And Understanding

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As a co founder of anti hate group Resisting Hate I encounter prejudice every day. Social media is rife with bigotry toward Muslims, Jews, the LGBT community, People of colour, women and indeed just about every demographic and community in the country.

It is important to be clear that the peaceable majority of people, both on and off social media, do not endorse prejudice and hate. The voices of the vociferous minority can be and are tackled regularly by those of us who stand up for the values of equality and diversity and who reject the idea that anybody should be persecuted for being true to who they are as an individual.

However it is important that we combat prejudice in the right way. I am concerned that the criteria for acceptance is all too often intertwined with the need for personal understanding. The rationale is – If you can make me understand why you need to do something then I will defend your right to do it. But this is narrow minded because what it is actually saying is that in order for your actions to be acceptable they must be validated by my values, not yours.

To give a specific example of this, I witnessed a discussion on Twitter the other day between a practitioner of the Jewish faith and a (rather belligerent) individual who objected to the practise of ritual animal slaughter under Kosher laws. The objector was asking a string of questions demanding the Jewish person explain the belief itself, why he felt it necessary to follow the practise in his personal life and whether he thought religious slaughter was in keeping with British cultural values. The expectation was that in order for the objector to accept the right to religious slaughter he must first have it explained to him in such a way that made it compatible with his own personal world view.

I encountered something very similar after publishing my article on the rights of Muslim ladies to wear the niqab. A lot of the comments I received were directed at the perceived need for Muslim ladies to explain why they felt the need to cover their faces. The implication was that if they could justify this need to the satisfaction of the niqab detractors then that would make the practise more acceptable.

The trouble with this way of thinking is that is bases the concept of acceptance on the personal views and ability to understand of those questioning the practises of other faiths and cultures. This is effectively prejudice in itself because it is denying the rights of others to self validate. It is my view that accepting the practises of other faiths and cultures should not be based on their ability to explain themselves in such a way that makes them palatable to Western values. We need to respect the rights of others to determine what is right for them based on their own values and beliefs.

To return to the example of the niqab, it is not necessary for me to understand why a Muslim lady would want to wear it or to have any desire to wear it myself in order to respect her right to make the choice that covering her face is appropriate for her. If I make this issue about my understanding and my cultural values then I am essentially saying that my values are more important than hers which is, of course, just reinforcing discrimination and prejudice.

Defending a person’s right to practise their faith or culture is not about understanding why it is they do what they do. It is about appreciating that people have the right to act in accordance with their own cultural values even if they cannot easily be understood by others. What we as battlers of prejudice should be doing is defending people’s rights. It was not necessary for our Kosher law objector to understand why it was important to the Jewish practitioner that their food be kosher. It should have been enough that it mattered to the Jewish individual, that it worked for him and that he was acting in accordance with his own world view. It was his right to act as he deemed fit, regardless of anybody else’s inability to understand why Kosher slaughter was important to him.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t ask questions about other faiths and cultures. To the contrary I am very positive about the fact that a greater level of knowledge of other cultures will help break down barriers and tackle prejudice. But it is important that we do not underpin our acceptance of others on our ability to understand them.

True acceptance and true respect must be based on the principle that even if you do not understand what is necessary for someone to actualise themselves as an individual, you support their right to make the choice and you defend their right to it.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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Hate Beyond The “Isms”

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Most of the issues that come the way of our anti hate group Resisting Hate can be broken down into one of four key areas – Anti Semitism, Islamophobia, Homophobia and Racism. Hate trends come and go but fighting these key areas forms the basis of the majority of the work that we do.

However it is easy to lose sight of the fact that in our post Brexit, post Donald Trump world, religion, race and sexuality are not the only sticks being used to beat members of our society with. We are starting to see condemnation and abuse directed at a wide range of people who do not fit the emerging conservative stereotype relating to what is fast becoming considered “normal”.

I came across this personally the other week when it was suggested by a far right detractor that the fact I practise Paganism would lessen the credibility for our group because it is a “crackpot, made up, New Age practice”. Leaving aside the fact that Paganism in some form or another predates all the world religions it was a comment that surprised me as it suggested my ability to discern and tackle hate was somehow impeded by the fact that I believe in and work with elements that differ to those of the predominant faiths in the country. The criticism was clear – my belief set is different so I must be wrong, stupid or mentally impaired.

Discrimination against lifestyle choices is causing a lot of trouble for people who wish to actualise their individuality. Only last week in America  a top Trump health care appointee wrote about a supposed link between tattoos and drug addiction. Also in America this week, amidst much student outcry, a school decided to “slut shame” its female students by issuing a flier as to what nature of prom garment would and would not be considered admissible attire for the school prom night.  These examples are clearly legitimising the concept that it is ok to judge people by their appearance. All those years of telling our children to look at the book not the cover appear to have been wasted as it is apparently now perfectly acceptable to make a snap shot judgement of a person based solely on their physical appearance.

Physical appearance, especially in the form of body/fat shaming, is one of the most problematic growing forms of hate on the internet with a concern that it may be a contributing factor in both young men and women developing eating disorders.  Social media sites have made it easy to comment anonymously on the appearance of others and I have personally seen images with (literally) hundreds of derogatory comments all aiming to undermine the confidence and self-esteem of the individual posting their picture.

Sexism too is on the increase. The pussy grabbing US President has established a new low in the attitude to women in society. It is now common place to see memes on Twitter promoting a return to “old fashioned values” when the woman ran the home, raised the children and played no part in the workplace. These regressive attitudes are in danger of undoing the equality that women have fought for and, if we are not careful, will lead us back to a world where women are objectified and seen as inferior to their male counterparts.

The left wing have come in for a particularly rough ride recently (and I definitely speak from experience on this one). Progressives, Liberals and “Lefties” have been attacked with venom on every social media platform. It is perhaps for those they see as the greatest threat to their conservative dystopia that the far right reserve the greater part of their vitriol. Our group receive hate mail on a daily basis simply for speaking out about defying hate. The death threats some of the Antifascist groups receive are unprintable.

Many social prejudices are against a choice made by an individual but I have recently observed two hate trends that particularly churn my stomach, all the more repellent for the fact they are discriminating against something over which the individual has no control.

The first is Trans hatred. The Independent reported in 2016 that Trans related crime has increased by 170%. This may well be attributable to the obsession the media has with who uses what bathroom but is more likely due to the ignorant belief that people undergo gender reassignment surgery as a lifestyle preference.  Education explaining that gender surgery takes place to correct an individual’s body to match their true gender would combat a lot of this hate but, as is too often the way with ignorance, it is the wrong facts getting posted time and time again on the internet.

I am equally appalled at the upsurge in violence and abuse toward homeless people. Few things scream scumbag more than the people who find it funny to abuse others simply for a downturn in their personal circumstances. Seeing regular reports of homeless people tormented is sickening and a sad indictment on humanity in 2017.

The resurgence of hate may look like we have a bleak future but it is not all bad news.  Hate crime laws have been changing for some years now to keep up with the imaginative new ways human beings keep finding to discriminate against each other. In 2013 it became a hate crime to discriminate against individuals identifying with different musical sub cultures (including goths after the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster)  and this month in North Yorkshire misogyny has been reclassified as a hate crime. There are also calls for acts of abuse against the homeless to be reclassified as hate crime and prosecutions for people committing acts of violence toward people with disabilities are up 40% which the CPS confirm is indicative of the fact that hate toward those with disabilities “will not be ignored.”

As our laws evolve to reflect the general public disgust with those who discriminate against and abuse others they will act as a deterrence for haters which will protect further abuses taking place. But the best way to eradicate hate is to educate our next generation. Parents and Teachers – your role in this will be invaluable. Teach our children that kindness, not hate, must form the backbone of the world we want to live in.

 

 

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech

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The right to free speech has become a contested and contentious issue in the arena of anti hate activism. The pro free speech argument rests on the fact that people have a right to express their views and that censorship denies people this basic right. The counter argument runs on the lines that there needs to be exceptions to free speech for the safety and good of society.

Both myself and Resisting Hate strongly believe that hate speech is not free speech. Free speech is not the holy grail of civil liberty. No human being exists in a vacumn where they can speak as they please with no regard for the consequences of what they are saying.

Too often we hear of the right to freedom of speech with rarely a mention of the responsibilities. Yet we do have a responsibility in our speech. We have a responsibility not to harm others, incite hate against them or create a society of prejudice and intolerance.

Here are some key points as to why we do not consider hate speech to be free speech

Hate speech often deals in preconceptions and stereotypes

Invoking stereotypes is the antithesis of free speech. It shackles individuals to being a caricature of their race, faith, gender or sexual orientation and denies them the right to be identified based on their own merit and identity. When we deny people the right to be individuals it is the start of a slippery slope where people are objectified and categorised as a product of a type. This eventually leads to the process of dehumanisation where human beings are no longer seen as individuals in their own right.

Hate speech incites violence and endangers innocent people

The easiest accounts to get suspended on social media are the ones that make threats of violence. These can be in the form of a direct threat to an individual or an oblique threat to a group or community. Threats are a problem for two distinct reasons. Firstly there is the obvious fact that a threat makes an individual or group feel unsafe and at risk of perceived or actual physical harm. But perhaps equally as worrying is the fact that when threats go unchecked they encourage other haters to take part in threatening and violent speech. It is important to take threats seriously because they can and do escalate into physical harm. Threats do not constitute free speech.

There is a difference between expressing an opinion and telling damaging lies

I do agree that an individual has a right to express an opinion. There are many cases where I dislike the opinions of others but I acknowledge that they have a right to hold and share those opinions. What they do not have a right to do is tell lies to publicly reinforce that opinion. Our group saw an example of this the other day where a photograph of a child mauled by a dog had been used on social media to report an “attack perpetrated by immigrants.” There was no attack, the story was entirely fictional and was being spread to incite hatred against various groups in the UK perceived not to be “English” enough by a group of far right Twitter accounts.

While we are all free to tell the truth, in my view, freedom of speech does not extend to telling untruths with an agenda to demonise others.

Actualising the “right” of free speech violates the rights of others

One of the most common objections our group receives in relation to our belief that hate speech is not free speech is the argument that an individual has the right to say what they please and that putting restrictions on this denies them that right. Putting aside the issue that alongside the right to free speech comes an implied responsibility not to abuse that right there is also an inherent conflict between the right of one individual to express a view and the right of another individual not to be abused or verbally attacked. One social media account may wish to express for example their extremist hate view (and I use this atrocious example as it is a real life example seen so frequently by us) that “All Jews deserve to be killed.” However a Jewish person also has the right to log onto social media without being exposed to the extremist view that others wish them dead.

Free speech is not as simple as saying it is the actualisation of a right – as the right of one individual in this case is a direct conflict with the right of another.

Freedom of speech does not mean speech without consequences

There was an outcry on Twitter the other day as a response to the verdict on the Katie Hopkins court case where the court ruled that Ms Hopkins had to pay damages to the plaintiff for tweets implying the lady in question had desecrated war memorials. The view was expressed by some that Ms Hopkins was exercising her right to free speech and therefore should receive no sanctions for the comments she had made.

This misses the point of what free speech actually is. Free speech is not speech free from consequences. When we choose to express ourselves we also choose to accept the consequences of that speech.

Hate speech normalises hate in society

When we are exposed to hate on a regular basis we become desensitised to it and extreme views become ubiquitous. If we allow speech with no regulation or restriction and accept that any individual has the right to express any view then we open ourselves to the very real danger of normalising hate in our society. We destigmatise those members of society who spew hatred into our world and we allow views of division and discrimination to become endemic within our communities.

If we open the floodgates to hate it will be impossible to turn our backs on it.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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On The Road To Führerprinzip

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On this day in 1933, the New York Times ran the above on their front page telling the story about a little man who was born in Austria, who became Chancellor of Germany. Little did anyone know at that point that the centrists who held the balance of power would shortly become the minority and that fascism would take control of Germany.

Now, I’m sure many of you know the history of WWII and the way that the government of Germany became in control of the people in such a way that it seemed to be a kind of brain washing that was done. So much so that the country after WWII needed to have a complete reeducation which was dubbed denazification. It seems incredible that at that time, the “Way of the Nazi” was so ingrained into the fabric of the country in such a short period of time that people needed to unlearn what they had been told.

Anyway, I digress……

Every day I am seeing more and more things which smack of “Hitlerism” (if that’s a word). And what worries me is that my friends in the USA are starting to feel as persecuted as members of my family must have felt at the time that Hitler came to power. (They were born in Dresden and were Jewish but luckily they were able to escape the country and were taken in by Britain before borders were closed and they could be caught). My friends in America have been abused both online and in person by petty minded little bigots who say that because they are gay/Muslim/Jewish, they are not wanted in the country they were born in or have entered and become residents in.

Now, there has been a lot of criticism of people who have likened Trump to Hitler and I can understand that as Hitler was a monster. He was a murderer who was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people. But, I have to say that people need to look at history to understand how things can happen very quickly.

  1. Hitler started off with a minority of people supporting him. He vilified the Jews, making them hated within the country. He told the non-Jewish people that they are amazing, they are exceptional and tried to play on feelings of disenfranchisement. Trump has done the same, elevating people above others using Muslims in this way. He has played on stereotypes of Mexicans and this has led to the “build a wall” mentality.
  2. Hitler played on people not uniting en mass against him. If you ask someone “what do you think of Trump”, you’ll hear them mutter that he is a horrible man, he has terrible ideals, that he must be stopped. But ask them what they have done…..have they done anything to stand against him and most people won’t say a word. Hitler relied on this…Occupy the most senior positions in the land with your friends and people will tend not to take action against you. (I know there have been demonstrations in America and I’m not detracting from what they have done).
  3. When Hitler came to power, he made sure he was surrounded by people who would follow him no matter what. There was no one in his cabinet who would question his orders, no one at all. From the moment he took charge he silenced the press and created new laws which gave rise to “Führerprinzip”….which means that the Führer’s word is above all written law. Trump has no one in his cabinet who wants to question him. Furthermore, he has just sacked Sally Yates because she told justice department lawyers to not defend his Executive Order banning entry to the nationals of the 7 Muslim majority countries as she felt it is unconstitutional.
  4. Kellyanne Conway, the leading spokesperson for Trump, a couple of days ago launched a tirade against the media for the way that they have reported articles about Trump. Specifically she said “not one silly political analyst and pundit who talked snack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go”. This interview came shortly after Stephen Bannon (of Brietbart) said that the media was the “opposition party” which should “keep its mouth shut”. When Hitler took power, he controlled less than 4% of the 4,700 papers in Germany. He then outlawed the opposition parties and he censored the media so they only showed what he wanted them to show…….to me, Bannon saying the media should keep their mouths shut is the start of a desire to censor even if it’s not an outright ban (at the moment).

There are many other similarities but I have a feeling I could send people to sleep if I write too much more.

Fact is, there is more to what Trump is doing than meets the eye.

The only way to stop him from doing what he wants to do and becoming more Hitleresque are….
1. Support each other. Keep the fight fresh. Know you aren’t alone.

2. Keep up pressure. Regardless of what happens with petitions, the open letter to Trump and such things, the fact is that HE knows what he is doing isn’t liked. Even if the state visit goes ahead, when he arrives in the country he will know that over 1 million people don’t want him here and that 3 million plus people including many in the U.K. have signed to say he is a malignant boil on the bottom of the civilised world.

3. Keep yourself educated. Don’t fall for fake news. There are some funny sites out there which are very entertaining and are blatantly fake. There are some however that intertwine real news with outlandish “fake news”. But people are falling for the fake part because they know the real part is true.

I will (as will my friends who run this page and our accounts on Twitter) continue to work on combating hate in person as well as on social media. We will also not stop fighting not only religious hatred but also people who hate others based on gender, sexuality and much much more.

Halal Kitty is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate, and a regular contributor to the group’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.
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Banning Muslims On Holocaust day

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I found it incredible that on a day intended to think about the holocaust, that Trump didn’t know his own history enough to see that not only was his anti-immigration Executive Order a bad thing to do, but to do it 2 days before Holocaust Memorial Day was plain thoughtless.

Now, for those of you on Twitter, there is an account named St. Louis Manifest (@stl_manifest). The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner, which contained 937 Jewish refugees who were escaping the Nazi regime. They are tweeting the names and photos of those who perished following the so called “Voyage of the Damned”.

They attempted to dock in Cuba but they only allowed 29 passengers to disembark of which 22 were Jewish. They then went on to try to enter America however they were not given permission to do so and the US Coastguard shadowed the ship to ensure that the ship didn’t try to drop anyone off. Finally they tried to enter Canada but a Canadian immigration official called Frederick Blair who was hostile to Jewish immigration persuaded the Prime Minister not to intervene and provide help.

They then went back to Europe where Britain took 288 of them, and on arriving in Antwerp, the remaining passengers disembarked where 224 were taken by France, 214 by Belgium & 181 by the Netherlands.

As you can imagine, the Jews entering Britain were safe as the Nazis didn’t manage to invade here. However the Jews in Europe were mostly captured and sent to various camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Belsen and others. Of the 619 passengers who were dropped in continental Europe, only 365 survived the war. The captain of the ship, a German called Gustav Schröeder was named as Righteous among the Nations at the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel.

Now, back then it was Jews escaping the Nazi regime and if they didn’t then they’d be sent to suffer in concentration camps. Today it is different, it is Muslims who are being persecuted, but to them the results are no less deadly. They are escaping, on the whole, from war torn countries where there is both governmental corruption and control which is turning them against the people or they are being chased by the Islamic State “troops”. The end result is the same as for the Jews. You either run, taking your families and whatever possessions you have with you……or hide and risk capture or being bombed by the government, America or Russia.

It is true that countries do need to safeguard borders, to take on a proportionate response to the crisis, there isn’t any way that every single refugee could be taken in by Britain alone however, in addition to the refugees taken by Islamic countries in the Middle East (for example, Lebanon is a small country with a population of 4.5million……but they have taken in 4.8 million refugees…..let that number sink in…..they have taken in so many refugees that there are actually more refugees then Lebanese people in Lebanon!) we need to do our bit and assist these poor people.

Now, this has been a long rant and I bet you’re glad that it’s nearing its end……this is the point that I have been making.

Trump has signed an order effectively removing the ability for Muslims who are being persecuted to take shelter. He has only done this for the Muslim countries that his businesses don’t get trade from. He took this action on a day where people were mindful of the holocaust and fate of Jewish people at the hands of aggressors……effectively making the same mistake and condemning those people that America could help as his predecessor did 78 years previously.

To me this is not acceptable and it has filled me with rather a massive amount of anger.

I don’t think people are aware of the parallels that are being drawn and I would be grateful if you could share this information so that the story gets out there.

Halal Kitty is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate, and a regular contributor to the group’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.
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Jack Renshaw – National Action

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This cherubic looking schoolboy is Jack Renshaw, the leader of youth Neo Nazi group National Action. The group was proscribed by the British government for promoting racist and Anti Semitic behaviours.

Jack repeatedly makes Twitter accounts to attempt to recruit followers to his extremist (and nonsensical) views. However he is usually spotted and suspended before he has managed to persuade even a hundred hapless idiots to follow him.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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Defending The Right To A Faith

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As someone who believes in the importance of standing up for the rights of religions to observe and practise their different faiths I often get asked when I am planning to convert to a religion different to my own. It rather amuses me how many people (my oldest friend included) secretly expect me to convert to one of the Abrahamic faiths one day.

Amusement aside though this misunderstanding of my motives is very frustrating because it undermines the very essence of what I am trying to achieve. People confuse my agenda of promoting the equality of religious freedom with an attempt to promote the actual religions themselves. Instead of hearing a voice that calls for equal rights people mistakenly hear a sales pitch for whichever faith I happen to be discussing at the time. The point they miss is that I am not defending other religions because I agree with them but because I believe that other people have a right to hold beliefs that differ to my own.

If truth be told none of the three Abrahamic faiths would work for me. I have a good deal of respect for them all but I consider them too reliant on scripture and intercession to be suited to my own spiritual needs. I am certain that the vast majority of Priests, Imams and Rabbis are decent and holy people with complete integrity but I trust no man or woman to intercede with the Gods on my behalf. And although I have read large sections of both the Bible and the Quran and found them positive sources of moral guidance it is important in my own faith that morality is borne from instinct and personal intuition rather than through an interpretation of scripture. In short I have no interest whatsoever in becoming a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew and it is not any personal affiliation with any of the Abrahamic faiths that spurs me on to defend the rights of the people who practise them.

I chose my words very carefully in the last paragraph “None of the three Abrahamic faiths would work for me…”  I wonder how many of the world’s heated theological discussions could have been made less acrimonious by the use of those two words “for me”.  The discussions I see relating to religion, both on and off social media, are very concerned with taking an objective approach to the viability of other faiths. I hear: “Judaism fails because…”Islam is wrong because…”Christianity doesn’t work because…”  This kind of language leads to division and discrimination. Any of those statements could be neutralised and phrased in a way to open up constructive discussion if people were simply able to add those two subjective words “for me.”

There is nothing wrong with discussing elements of any religion that are a poor fit for any individual’s belief system but it is important to do so in a way that recognises it as being a subjective preference as opposed to a flaw in the faith. I stated clearly that religious scripture does not work for me. I did not say I think the Bible and Quran have no value for others. It should be and it is possible to make a meaningful statement about our own relationship to other faiths without falling into the trap of denigrating them. There is nothing wrong in saying any religion doesn’t work for you, there is a lot wrong in writing off an entire belief system and all the people who practise it.

Interestingly the most vitriolic condemnation of religions usually comes not from atheists but from followers of different faiths. Eager to stand up for one set of rights these people often fall into the trap of putting down the rights of others. Some of the most vicious attacks on religions I have seen have been from people claiming the moral high ground of their own faith. It is deeply disturbing to watch the strong moral teachings of the three Abrahamic faiths ignored as a small number of fanatical adherents twist and pervert their own scripture as a means to attack and abuse others.

Fundamental to the integrity of the anti-hate group I co manage is the strong belief that you cannot fight hate against any single community without being prepared to fight all hate. I am not interested in Jews who want to promote Judaism by criticising Islam. I am not interested in Muslims who seek to defend their faith by slandering Christians. I am not interested in Christians who justify their faith by pointing not to what is good about their religion but what is bad about everybody else’s religion. The small minority who adopt these tactics do nothing to promote what is good about their beliefs and do everything to give their own faith a diminished profile and a bad name.

The established faiths, religions and belief systems may not work for everyone but they do work for the people who follow them and that needs to be respected. It is hypocrisy to expect people to respect your views and beliefs if you are unwilling to extend that courtesy to others.

The key concept to grasp is that defending religious freedom is not about adopting the beliefs and values of different faiths but about respecting the rights of others to hold those beliefs and values. It is perfectly possible to disagree with something yourself but to defend the rights of other people to agree with/believe in it. If I genuinely did believe Christianity, Islam or Judaism had the answers that would work for me I would convert. They don’t. But just because those religions do not work for me and just because I don’t believe the same things the adherents of those religions do does not mean I cannot uphold their right to hold and express those beliefs. I am defending not what they believe but their right to believe it.

Defending the right to a faith is not the same as defending a faith itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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Anti Semitic Attack On Our Member

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I’ve received about 12 death threats since 9/11. It started with Alt Right radicals saying “Jews did 9/11”, then a man posted my photo online about 30 times and circulated it online among neo Nazis simply tagging it “Jew.” Countless people told me that I am not white (news to me) and that America is for Whites only.

I tried to explain that Judaism is a religion NOT a race. I was told they were going to deport me or kill me. In my entire life, I never knew this kind of hatred towards Jews existed in America. The Trump campaign seems to have awakened something in the people. Closet racists and bigots started posting swastikas and now that Trump has been elected this behavior has been legitimized by the Establishment. I didn’t believe he could win so I thought they would disappear back under the rock they crawled out of. Now I’m afraid they may become even more radical and their words may escalate and grow more violent.

This is America. I expect Freedom OF Religion and Freedom FROM Religion.

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Halal and Kosher – Facts not Prejudice

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Not being a reader of the Daily Mail their article on the subject of Halal slaughter published on the 24 October would have normally gone unnoticed. However when it was brought to my attention on Twitter I decided to have a closer look at some of the claims made by the Mail and explore some of the facts behind the hate rhetoric that the paper publishes in place of news.

In researching this article I didn’t want to base my viewpoint solely on the usual academic publications and news articles so I have spent the last two days watching actual abattoir footage demonstrating the three different techniques of pre stun slaughter, no stun slaughter and post stun slaughter. This isn’t an ivory tower approach, I have watched these animals being killed for myself.

The terms Halal and Kosher in this context (Halal for Muslims, Kosher for Jews) relate to food which is permissible to eat under the two religions. These do not exclusively relate to the slaughter methods, there are many other dietary laws involved such as the type of animal that can be consumed, how the meat is served/stored and even the diet of the animal itself. However for the purpose of this article it is the slaughter methods I am concerned with.

The two primary requirements of Halal and Kosher slaughter involve the fact that the slaughter must be performed by somebody of the religious faith and that the animal be killed by a single slit to the throat with the body completely drained of blood afterwards. This is usually achieved by the hanging of the carcass so the blood naturally drains away from the animal. Both faiths emphasise the importance of minimising suffering to the animal and advocate the use of a sharp non serrated blade so the animal is killed quickly due to deep severing of the primary arteries. In both Halal and Kosher slaughter there is a religious observation involved in the ritual. Halal slaughter requires that the name of God be spoken before the individual animal is killed and Kosher slaughter requires a blessing to be performed before each session of slaughter takes place.

There is a common sense approach to the religious requirements of both faiths. A carcass that is not properly drained of blood will quickly spoil. Also, historically, the requirement to slit the throat of the animal would have been one of the quickest methods of despatch available to Muslims and Jews and so would have fit with the humanitarian aspects of both faiths. Incidentally the dietary laws in general have many common sense elements. Neither Muslims nor Jews eat the flesh of the pig which in the hot climate of the pre refrigeration era in the Middle East would have been very sensible indeed as pork does not store well and carries a much higher risk of food poisoning.

The Mail headline as usual makes a claim without bothering to explain the actual facts. The statement “The animal must be alive when its throat is cut and be allowed to bleed out” is misleading as it makes no reference to the time spans involved. It takes on average between seven and thirty seconds for a sheep to lose consciousness after having its throat slit. The bleeding out process is completed while the animal is unconscious and the animal will go from unconsciousness to death with no suffering involved.

The “unnecessary agony” is also an example of rhetoric rather than fact. Many animals are stunned with electricity prior to slaughter so are rendered insensible before the throat is cut. The Mail tries to play down pre stun slaughter by stating “In a number of abattoirs the animals are not stunned over fears it is not permissible.” However, statistically in the UK, 88% of the Halal food chain is killed by pre stun methods. (Check the actual Food Standards Agency figures, not what the Mail tells you the FSA statistics are).

Interestingly enough it is Kosher slaughter (which the Mail makes notably little reference to except as a definition in a side paragraph) that does not permit the pre stun prior to the kill. One senses the ever present anti Muslim Daily Mail agenda at work here.

The Mail makes reference to both non stun and pre stun slaughter but fails to mention the third method of slaughter – post stun – or the fact that this method has gained popularity in recent years. This method involves an electric shock being administered to the animal immediately after the throat has been cut. This is acceptable to most Muslims as the objective that the animal be conscious when slaughtered is met. It is also, unlike pre stun slaughter, accepted in the Jewish faith. The post stun method means that the animal is not even aware of pain for the seconds it takes to lose consciousness. To my mind this increasingly popular method of slaughter also shows that both the Muslim and the Jewish religion are willing to look for new ways to be compliant with their faith while also considering the important point of animal welfare.

I am personally committed to the idea that animals should be killed in a humane manner. As I said at the beginning of this article I made the effort to watch significant amounts of footage across all three slaughter methods to determine in my own mind if I believed Halal and Kosher slaughter methods humane or not. The conclusion I reached was that all three methods (pre, post and non stun) when administered correctly by licensed professionals in authorised premises were to my mind acceptable in the sense that unnecessary suffering was not experienced by the animals. The myths I had heard about – in particular the violent death throes of the animals after the throat is cut – were simply that, myths. The footage I saw of the animals writhing around in what admittedly does look like pain is actually down to post death muscle movement. Even with no stun slaughter the animal is dead and beyond pain within seconds.

I find it suspicious that these two religions should receive such bad press for their religious requirements and strongly suspect this is more to do with the attitude of the right wing media toward the faiths themselves than it is a genuine interest in animal welfare. What my research into abattoirs did show me is that there are still a large number (and I’m talking secular abattoirs now as well as ones with a religious focus) where animal welfare is not a priority and where abuse and neglect still go on. This should be the real expose, not the fact that some animals are slaughtered using what I personally witnessed to be humane Halal and Kosher methods of slaughter.

Roanna is one of the founder members of Resisting Hate. She is the author of the majority of our articles, and also publishes a blog on Huffington Post UK
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