One Society Many Cultures welcomes ban on visit from Islamophobic US pastor and calls on Home Secretary to ban EDL demo in Luton

News Release
For Immediate release
Thursday 20 January

One Society Many Cultures – which campaigns against Islamophobia and racism – is calling on the government to ban the proposed English Defence League (EDL) demonstration in Luton on Saturday 5 February.

One Society Many Cultures welcomes the Home Office decision to ban Terry Jones from entering Britain. Jones is an American pastor who threatened to make 11 September 2010 “International burn the qur’an day”. He had claimed he was invited to address the EDL demonstration in Luton.

Jones may not be attending, but the EDL demo is going ahead and locals, particularly Muslim communities, are deeply concerned for their safety as the EDL have indicated they intend to march into the heart of the Muslim community. Previous EDL demonstrations have led to violent attacks on Mosques and other places of worship, Asian and other minority communities. At a demonstration in Preston in November 2010 the EDL were caught on camera chanting “burn down a Mosque”.

One Society Many Cultures, alongside many others, is calling for a ban on the EDL demonstration, on the grounds that it contravenes the Public Order Act and incitement to racial and religious hatred legislation.

Luton Council has also called for the EDL demo to be banned.

Sabby Dhalu, Secretary of One Society Many Cultures said:

“We should not underestimate the impact of Terry Jones’s threats to organise the so-called ‘International Burn the Qur’an Day’. Following this there were incidents here in Britain of people, including children on school premises, burning the Qur’an. We therefore welcome the Home Office decision to ban Terry Jones from entering Britain.

“This ban should also extend to the EDL demonstration itself. After over 30 demonstrations there is a mountain of evidence that illustrates the EDL does not want to demonstrate peacefully and is a violent, racist and Islamophobic organisation, that wants to stir up racial and religious hatred including violent attacks and provocations on places of worship. There is no right to do this in a democratic country. Legislation on both public order and incitement to racial and religious hatred outlaw such activity. We call upon the Home Secretary to ban the EDL demonstration in Luton.”

Article: Unsubstantiated allegations of cultural links to sexual abuse whip up Islamophobia

by Sabby Dhalu, Secretary, One Society Many Cultures

In the wake of recent convictions for sexual grooming and rape in Derby three myths have been fostered by sections of the media and some politicians.
Firstly, that young Muslim men have a tendency to be paedophiles, sexual groomers and rapists due to their cultural background; secondly, that citing ethnicity as a causal factor for sex crimes stops racism, and finally, that there has been a ‘conspiracy of silence ‘on the issue of grooming by Pakistani heritage men, which some politicians and newspapers are now bravely trying to break.
These myths must be exposed and challenged. They do nothing to protect the victims of sexual violence; they only serve to give legitimacy to racist views and organisations.
Sexual predators and paedophiles exist in all communities, as do their victims. And sexual abuse and violence is a crime irrespective of who is the perpetrator. Everyone has a responsibility and a duty to challenge such crimes and support the victims.

Convictions of individuals do not show any link between background or religion and these crimes. Moreover, those responsible for research – that has been widely cited as demonstrating such a link – have themselves refuted this claim, saying there is nothing in their research to prove this.
Despite this, Jack Straw chose to make a damaging and unsubstantiated intervention, whipping up the Islamophobic responses to these cases. In a television interview he claimed both that these crimes are rife in the Muslim community as their cultural background means they do not have a sexual outlet, and – most shockingly – that they target white girls in particular as they are seen as ‘easy meat’.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Mr Straw said: “These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically,” he said. “So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care … who they think are easy meat.”
“And because they’re vulnerable they ply them with gifts, they give them drugs, and then of course they’re trapped.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8247607/Pakistani-men-see-white-girls-as-easy-meat-claims-Jack-Straw.html

Other commentators have contested Straw’s approach. For example, Keith Vaz’s comments were a much needed corrective to the approach of Straw: “What I don’t think we can do is say that this is a cultural problem. One can accept the evidence which is put before us about patterns and networks but to go that step further I think is pretty dangerous.

“We can’t ignore the facts of individual cases, but against what Jack says is what the judge said in the Derby case. [I] don’t think you can stereotype an entire community.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12142177

Keith Vaz is referring to the explicit comment by Judge Head, who said at the conclusion of the trial: ‘It was never the Crown’s case that these offences were racially motivated or aggravated.’
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345084/Jail-sexual-predators-led-Asian-gang-abused-girls-young-12.html#ixzz1Aog9eGq8

A number of other well informed observers have also raised serious concerns about how the debate on the nature and causes of grooming has unfolded.
Authors of the first independent academic analysis looking at “on-street grooming” – defined for the research as where young girls are identified on the street, including at the school gates, as potential targets of paedophiles and abusers – have themselves said they were concerned that data from a small, geographically concentrated, sample of cases had been “generalised to an entire crime type”.

The authors, Helen Brayley and Ella Cockbain, from UCL’s Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, said they were surprised their research, confined to just two police operations in the North and Midlands – which found perpetrators in these two cases were predominantly but not exclusively from the British Pakistani community – had been cited in support of the claims that such offences were widespread.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jan/06/child-sex-trafficking-racial-stereotyping

They added that the real finding of their research is that: “This challenges the view that white girls are sought out by offenders, suggesting instead that convenience and accessibility may be the prime drivers for those looking for new victims.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jan/06/child-sex-trafficking-racial-stereotyping

This has been by echoed by Martin Narey, from Barnado’s, said, “I don’t think this is so much about targeting white girls – because black girls are also victims – it’s about targeting vulnerable, isolated girls.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12140641

Sheila Taylor, from Safe and Sound Derby has also explained that: “This model of street-grooming is going on in many places. It is just that the recent spate of prosecutions against Asian men in the north of England and Midlands makes it look like it is concentrated in these communities.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12140641

Those who choose to make an issue of the identity of the perpetrators of sex crimes as Muslims or Asian are not de-racialising the debate, nor are they being brave. On the contrary, they are only feeding the myth that race is an important factor. After all, no one uses terms such as ‘white grooming’ or ‘white paedophilia.’

The attempt to explain sex crimes by ethnic origin is not only inaccurate, but irresponsible. It provides credibility to the racist views of groups like the BNP and the EDL who attempt to suggest that Islam is founded on and spread through sexually aggressive behaviour, including rape and paedophilia.
On EDL marches a common chant is “Allah is a paedo”, and the BNP is now campaigning with the slogan “Our children are not halal meat”
It should also not be forgotten that the BNP won four council seats seven years ago in Bradford on the back of the legitimacy given to the myth of so called ‘Asian grooming’  that it was claimed resulted from marriage customs.
Just before the 2010 election Jack Straw, publicly apologised for the consequences of comments he made in October 2006 following his widely publicised statement that he would prefer Muslim women not to wear a face veil when visiting his MP’s surgery.

He was quoted as saying, “To be blunt, if I had realised the scale of publicity that they [his comments] received in October 2006, I wouldn’t have made them and I am sorry that it has caused problems and I offer that apology.” http://iengage.org.uk/images/stories/pr260410.pdf

It is unfortunate that Jack Straw does not appear to have learned from that incident to think carefully – and check the facts – before making inflammatory comments of the type he has made in relation to this case.

It is likely that once again, Pakistani and Muslim communities that are already subjected to increasing racism and Islamophobia, will bear the brunt of the consequences of the legitimacy given to racist ideas and groups by irresponsible ‘insights’ offered by high profile politicians and sections of the media. That is why we must always use the facts to challenge myths that associate any one community with a particular crime.

Other useful articles on this subject include:

Grooming and our ignoble tradition of racialising crime – dubious claims about Muslim men grooming white girls hide legitimate worries about a system that fails victims of abuse, Libby Brooks, Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/07/grooming-racialising-crime-tradition

Too many of us treat young white women as trash, Barbara Ellen, Observer/Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/09/grooming-obesity-gordon-ramsay

What makes Arizona’s killer just a loner not a terrorist?  Mehdi Hasan, Comment is Free

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/13/jared-lee-loughner-loner-muslim-terrorists
Why are all Pakistani men are being smeared in the sex-grooming cases?
By Iman Quereshi guest writing for Liberal Conspiracy

Comment is Free Article: Grooming and our ignoble tradition of racialising crime

Dubious claims about Muslim men grooming white girls hide legitimate worries about a system that fails victims of abuse

by Libby Brooks, Deputy Comment Editor, The Guardian, Friday 7 January 2011

Suspects ‘What has not emerged is consistent evidence that Pakistani Muslim men are disproportionately involved in these crimes.’ Illustration: Jim Sillavan for the Guardian

The British National party’s website, its logo still sporting a seasonal sprig of holly, is understandably triumphalist as it proclaims that the “controlled media” has admitted this week that “Nick Griffin has been right all along about Muslim paedophile gangs”.

The particular branch of the controlled media the BNP refers to is the Times, which has been running the results of a lengthy investigation into the sexual exploitation and internal trafficking of girls in the north of England. Specifically, the Times has marshalled evidence suggesting that these organised crimes are carried out almost exclusively by gangs of Pakistani Muslim origin who target white youngsters; and it quotes both police and agency sources who refer to a “conspiracy of silence” around the open investigation of such cases, amid fears of being branded racist or inflaming ethnic tensions in already precarious local environments.

This is not the first time that anxieties about the ethnic dimension of child sexual exploitation have been aired by the media. In 2004 the Channel 4 documentary Edge of the City, which explored claims that Asian men in Bradford were grooming white girls as young as 11, sexually abusing them and passing them on to their friends, was initially withdrawn from the schedules after the BNP described it as “a party political broadcast”, and the chief constable of West Yorkshire police warned that it could spark disorder.

Anecdotally, as far back as the mid-90s, local agencies have been aware of the participation of ethnic minority men in some cases of serial abuse. But what has not emerged is any consistent evidence to suggest that Pakistani Muslim men are uniquely and disproportionately involved in these crimes, nor that they are preying on white girls because they believe them to be legitimate sexual quarry, as is now being suggested.

The Times investigation is based around 56 men convicted in the Midlands and north of England since 1997, 50 from Muslim backgrounds. Granted, such prosecutions are notoriously difficult to sustain, but, nonetheless, this is a small sample used to evidence the “tidal wave” of offending referred to by unnamed police sources. Martin Narey, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, which has run projects in the areas concerned for many years, tells me that, while he is pleased to see open discussion of child sexual exploitation, he worries that “decent Pakistani men will now be looked at as potential child abusers”. He insists: “This is not just about Pakistani men, and not just about Asian men. And it is happening all over the country.”

While Narey acknowledges that “in the Midlands and north of England there does seem to be an over-representation of minority ethnic men in [offending] groups”, he argues strongly that no useful conclusions can be drawn until the government undertakes a serious piece of research into what is a nationwide problem. (Keith Vaz, who chairs the Commons home affairs select committee called for such an inquiry today.) Narey also refutes the allegation that Muslim men are grooming white girls because of cultural assumptions about their sexual availability, as girls from minority backgrounds have been similarly abused.

Thus no official data exists on the ethnic or religious background of perpetrators of this form of child abuse, and local charities have stated publicly that they do not consider it a race issue. But it is worth noting that, when asked by the Times to collate its recent work according to ethnicity, Engage – based in Blackburn and one of the largest multi-agency organisations working on this issue – found that in the past year that 80% of offenders were white.

There is an ignoble tradition of racialising criminality in this country, in particular sexual offences, from the moral panic about West Indian pimps in the 1960s to the statistically dubious coverage of African-Caribbean gang rape in the 90s. But even those who do want further investigation into the apparent preponderance of Asian perpetrators tell me that this is not about cultural expectations regarding the sexual susceptibility of white females but rather about opportunity and vulnerability, especially of young people within the care system. It is certainly admissible to query just how beholden to “the tyranny of custom”, as Wednesday’s Times leader put it, are these twentysomething males who drive flash cars and ply their victims with alcohol.

Nevertheless, Muslim voices are now being lined up to attest that serial child molestation is not actually sanctioned by the Qur’an. By building an apparent consensus of voices “bravely” speaking out in the face of accusations of racism, it becomes that much harder for a figure from within the Muslim community to offer a more nuanced perspective or indeed state that these allegations are simply not true. The inevitable and distorting consequence of framing the debate around a “conspiracy of silence” is that it effectively shuts down or taints as mealy-mouthed any criticism.

The efforts of the Times to stand up this investigation are certainly considerable: selectively quoting or misquoting some groups, and inventing a category of “on-street grooming” that does not exist in law and was not recognised by any of the agencies I spoke to. It is also worth asking how responsible it is to provide ammunition to the violent racist extremists already active in these areas on such flawed evidence.

Meanwhile, the sunlight of investigative inquiry has yet to shine on our legal system which, all agencies agree, fails to cater to the needs of children who – groomed into acquiescence by practised abusers of all creeds and colours – don’t present as the perfect victims our limited version of justice demands.

Campaign against the indefinite Imprisonment and Detention without Charge or Trial of Mustapha Taleb


Mustapha Taleb was born in Algeria on the 28th October 1969.  He was a member of the Algerian political party which won the general election in June 1991.

However the election result was overturned by the military and his FIS party was outlawed.  After arrest, torture and later release, Mustapha managed to flee the country. The marks of torture are still on his body today.

He arrived in Britain in March 2000 and applied for political asylum, which was granted on 23rd November 2001.  He was given permission to work and did various jobs in the Finsbury Park area where other Algerian refugees often gather.  One such job was in the bookshop of the now well known Finsbury Park Mosque.

On the 7th January 2003 he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the so called  Ricin Terror Plot. ‘So called’ because it was eventually demonstrated that there was no plot and no ricin.  Mustapha did not even know personally any of his co-accused until he met them in Belmarsh prison.

He was held in Belmarsh for two years and three months. The trial began in September 2004 and ended with a unanimous’ Not Guilty’ verdict, in April 2005. (One of the accused was convicted of a lesser charge which did not involve any of the others.)

Mustapha was released after the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict and was free for a few months.  In Sept 2005 he was detained again under new security powers and put in prison until January 2006.  He was then placed, under strict house arrest, in a flat in north London.

In August of 2006 he was again sent back to prison until July 2008. He was then released, put under strict house arrest in a one bedroom house on the outskirts of a South Midland town and ‘tagged’.  Even his few approved visitors find his house hard to reach.

He has never been told who has accused him or of what.  Accusations may well have come from informants in Algeria who are themselves under threat.  Meanwhile the Home Office is doing its best to get him returned to Algeria where he faces imprisonment and torture. Even to flee that country is itself a crime.

His last hope of justice may lie with the European Court of Human Rights but that will take years and he is already aged 41.

This whole story is one of the denial of basic justice.  He should either be charged with a crime and tried, on the basis of open evidence, or he should be released. This whole process is a denial of the norms of justice of which we in Britain were once proud.
We ask Kenneth Clarke, who heads the Ministry of Justice, to intervene at once. We ask all those who read this account to make their own representations to their political representatives and to raise public awareness of Mustapha’s plight in any way they can. You can contact the Ministry for justice on general.queries@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Bruce Kent  -  Vice President, Pax Christi

Fr. David Ardagh-Walter  - Parish Priest, St Mellitus, London N4

Barbara Kentish  - Justice and Peace Field Worker

contact : tollingtonpark@rcdow.rog.uk

Jewish Council for Racial Equality Fundraiser 17 January – Book your tickets now!

Stand Up Against Racism Comedy Night, January 17
Highlights Camden Lock 17,
Doors 7pm – Show 8.30pm
£16 adv £20 on the door
Hosted by a very special guest – Josh Howie and others.
11 East Yard, Camden Lock, London NW1 8AB
click here for tickets: https://express.iristickets.co.uk/k?jcorenight2010

Muslim Safety Forum expresses concern over reports that senior police officers are seeking a replacement power to Section 44

According to a report in the Guardian Newspaper, senior police officers are seeking a stop and search power to enhance counter terrorism street policing similar to Section 44. This power seems to be seeking what Section 44 was originally meant to entail: a time constrained, geographically limited and exceptional police power to stop and search people.

However, the MSF feels in light of the huge damage Section 44 has done to community-police relations without any apparent successes and the inability of UK police forces to, on their own accord, address this disproportionate use of it, we remain sceptical and concerned about this alleged recall of the power in a different guise by the police.

Shamiul Joarder, MSF’s lead on Counter Terrorism said; “If true then we would find this development a major concern to us. We have contacted the police requesting an urgent meeting to explain this media report.”

He further added, “The MSF has deep concerns over the reduction of police accountability through the proposed changes to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) which will, either directly or indirectly, increase police powers of all terrorism and general stop and searches/accounts whilst simultaneously reducing police accountability.
In this new context to allow for the draconian power such as s.44 in whatever guise will simply alienate vast swathes of communities who we have only just managed to build a working relationship with.

European judges ruled section 44 to be against human rights but the police seem to want to bring back these powers under a different guise. This will simply alienate vast swathes of communities, which will only make counter terrorism a harder job.’’