Spotlight on racial violence: January – March 2014

Spotlight on racial violence: January – March 2014


Written by: Jon Burnett

An overview of acts of domestic terror against Muslims and racist attacks in the first three months of 2014.

The ‘global war on terror’ has for some time now been over, according to leading politicians and some political commentators. Given that many of its hallmarks are still in operation, such a claim could easily be disputed. But in any case, sporadic acts of domestic terror and violence against Muslim communities continue – it’s just that they are not acknowledged.

Anti-Muslim violence not acknowledged

In February, UKIP MEP Gerard Batten repeated his call for Muslims in the UK to sign up to a ‘Charter of Muslim Understanding‘ which would include a promise to live in ‘peaceful co-existence with non-Muslims and root out the ideology of hate’. It is ironic that, just a few weeks after he did so, a Muslim community centre in Stevenage was seriously damaged after someone poured flammable liquid inside and set it alight. Around the same time, five people were convicted for their part in a violent assault against Muslim and Thai staff at a restaurant in Cambridge where they had chanted ‘EDL’ as they threw grass bottles and bins, terrifying staff and customers. Anti-Muslim violence in those few weeks – mosque attacks, assaults, abuse – continued with hardly any broader acknowledgement. Meanwhile, far-right group Britain First said its ‘Christian patrols’ would continue prowling through East London. A few weeks earlier, members of the BNP splinter group had driven a Gulf war vehicle into Tower Hamlets and gathered outside East London mosque before unfurling a banner emblazoned with the words ‘we are the British resistance’. Handing out leaflets, one of its activists said ‘This is our country. You want to live here, you adhere by our laws.’

Terror against Muslims

In March, a jury was shown a video of a teenager from Loughborough throwing a homemade Molotov cocktail in an alley and, in other footage, spray painting ‘No more mosques’ onto a wall. The teenager, who with two others had already pleaded guilty to charges of possession of petrol bombs and pipe bomb components, is accused of arming himself and planning a terrorist attack on various targets including a local mosque. Soon after, Merseyside resident and Hitler ‘obsessive’ Ian Forman was charged with terrorism offences after bomb-making equipment was found at his home. When his computer was searched, it was found that he had stockpiled chemicals and created spreadsheets detailing what further chemicals he would need, where to buy them and how much they would cost. He also described mosques in Merseyside as ‘targets’. Just a few days after this man was charged, a serving British soldier was also charged with terrorism offences. A nail bomb had been found at an address last year, along with far-right literature. The street where the explosive was found had to be cordoned off as bomb-disposal experts were called in to remove it.

Other racist violence

Racist attacks, and convictions for racist attacks (not by any means solely targeted at Muslims), that have taken place over the first three months of 2014 have involved a man with the mental age of five being beaten with a hammer and a plank of wood, a woman hit repeatedly with such force that her skull was fractured in several places, an African student who had only been in the UK for a few months set upon by several people who caused so much damage that he was left with nerve damage and unable to see out of one eye, and even attempted murder.

A selection of these attacks and convictions are presented below:

26 March 2014: A serving soldier was charged with terrorism offences after a nail bomb was found at a house in Eccles last year. Far-right literature was also found. (Islamophobia Watch, 26 March 2014)

25 March 2014: A woman in South Woodford, who was one of a group of seven people racially abused and attacked in November 2013, criticised the police’s delay in releasing CCTV evidence. One person was beaten unconscious during the attack. (Asian Image, 25 March 2014)

25 March 2014: ‘Neo-Nazi’ Ian Charles Forman was found guilty of ‘engaging in conduct in the preparation of terrorist acts’ after police found bomb making equipment in his Merseyside home. The man had saved images of mosques on his computer, describing them as ‘target one’ and ‘target two’. Sentencing was deferred to a later date. (Liverpool Echo, 25 March 2014)

20 March 2014: Two brothers were given prison sentences (one for two-and-a-half years and the other for two-years-three-months) for a serious racist attack on a vulnerable man in Leeds with the mental age of a five year old. The brothers beat him with a hammer and a plank of wood, and one of their friends joined in the attack. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 20 March 2014)

19 March 2014: A court in Edinburgh heard how a 19-year-old Scottish Defence League (SDL) supporter had returned home drunk from an SDL march in July last year and, in a rage, strangled his pregnant girlfriend and kicked her repeatedly in the stomach when she told him he could not attend a party because of the amount of alcohol he had consumed. When his Polish neighbour attempted to intervene and protect the woman, the SDL supporter threatened to stab him, telling him to ‘f**k off back to your own country’. When the police arrived at the blood-stained flat, the man said ‘I went too far, I only wanted to propose to her.’ (Edinburgh Evening News, 19 March 2014)

16 March 2014: A Polish man walking in Edinburgh was racially abused by a group of white teenagers who went on to assault him and throw rocks at him. The man suffered injuries which required hospital treatment. (Edinburgh Evening News, 17 March 2014)

14 March 2014: A teenage girl waiting at a bus stop in Dundee was racially abused by a group of boys who threw stones at her, hitting her on the shoulder. (Dundee Courier, 17 March 2014)

8 March 2014: A 30-year-old man was charged with arson and a racially aggravated offence after a fire at a mosque in Milton Keynes. (BBC News, 9 March 2014)

5 March 2014: A firework was thrown at an Islamic Centre in Whitley Bay whilst people were praying inside. Six people were later arrested. A member of the centre, present at the time, said: ‘We were praying at the time of the incident and got such a shock as it sounded like a bomb had gone off. We could see smoke and fire at the window.’ (North East Chronicle, 7 March 2014)

4 March 2014: Two teenagers in Ashford were given custodial sentences for racially abusing and attacking an Asian couple. One of those assaulted, a 33-year-old man, had to have facial surgery because of the severity of the injuries. (Your Ashford, 4 March 2014)

4 March 2014: A staff member at an off-license in Aylesbury was left with a broken nose and facial bruising after being assaulted outside his shop. The attacker reportedly racially abused him before the incident. (Get Bucks, 11 March 2014)

March 2014: A man was given a one year prison sentence for an attack on a taxi-driver in Huddersfield. The man had called the taxi driver a ‘black Muslim b******’ before the attack, saying that Muslims had killed one person (the attack happened after the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby in 2013), and beat him with a bottle, cutting open his face. The attacker was with several friends at the time, who laughed as the assault took place. (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 3 April 2014)

March 2014: Far-right BNP spin-off Britain First visited mosques in the north of England, entered them and distributed inflammatory anti-Muslim literature. (Asian Image, 21 March 2014)

March 2014: A teenager who was wrongfully arrested and later released without charge alleged he was punched in the stomach by a police officer and called a ‘monkey’ by another. The incident took place in a police cell. The police responded that ‘Should a complaint be made, we will investigate it appropriately.’ (London24, 14 March 2014)

March 2014: A group of Nepalese men in Aldershot were given non-custodial sentences for fighting with a group of white men. According to the Nepalese men, they were acting in self-defence after being racially abused. (Get Hampshire, 13 March 2014)

28 February 2014: An African student in Scotland, who had only been in the country a few months, was beaten unconscious in a racist attack. When walking home from a night out, he was approached by a group of people who called him a ‘n****r’ and told him to get out of Scotland before setting on him. Such was the severity of the beating that he was left unable to see out of one eye and suffered nerve damage. (Daily Record, 2 March 2014)

28 February 2014: A 46-year-old SDL supporter in Aberdeen was given a one year prison sentence for posting a message on Facebook last June to ‘burn [Edinburgh] mosque down’. The man posted the threat after the murder of Lee Rigby. (BBC News, 19 February 2014)

26 February 2014: A 22-year-old man was given a prison sentence for vandalising a mosque in south Wales and assaulting a woman who witnessed the attack. The man smashed several of the mosque’s windows in September last year. When he saw that a woman who lived nearby had opened her front door to see what was happening, he head-butted her, punched her and kicked her. He also attacked her husband when he came to her aid. He was given a six-month sentence for the racially aggravated mosque attack and a sixteen-month sentence for the assault, both terms to run consecutively. (South Wales Evening Post, 26 February 2014)

25 February 2014: Flammable liquid was poured inside a Muslim community centre in Stevenage and the building was set alight in an arson attack which caused serious damage. (Comet, 6 March 2014)

22 February 2014: An Asian man required hospital treatment for serious injuries to his face and shoulders after being racially abused and assaulted outside a shop in Glasgow. (Daily Record, 25 February 2014)

19 February 2014: Joshua Collinson-Prime, 19, William Jacey, 21, Leon Jackson, 24, Daniel Mooney, 20 and an unnamed 17-year-old man were convicted of various offences after attacking Muslim and Thai staff at a Cambridge restaurant. During the attack, which took place after Lee Rigby was killed in 2013, the group chanted ‘EDL’ and threw glass bottles and bins. (Cambridge News, 19 February 2014)

17 February 2014: Two men in Ashford were given sentences of ten months imprisonment, and one for eight months, for attacking a Pakistani man. The attack took place last summer, and the perpetrators spat at the man before shouting ‘You kill our soldiers’ and ‘Lee Rigby’ before assaulting him and dragging him into the middle of a road in front of oncoming traffic. (Kent Online, 17 February 2014)

12 February 2014: An EDL supporter was given a six month community order after nailing a copy of the Qu’ran and painting ‘EDL’ onto a building set to be converted into a Muslim education facility in Shotton Colliery. (Northern Echo, 12 February 2014)

6 February 2014: A woman in a restaurant in Manchester was racially abused by a man who went on to hit her in the face with a bottle and kick her repeatedly after she fell. She was hit with such force that her skull was fractured in several places. (ITV News, 7 April 2014)

5 February 2014: A 52-year-old man in Harlow, who claimed he used to be an army chef, was given a twelve-month prison sentence for threatening to bomb a mosque. The man rang 999 earlier in the year and told an operator of his intent, and after referring to Lee Rigby he said that he wanted to see Muslims ‘hanging in the street and kick **** out of them’. (Harlow Star, 5 February 2014)

4 February 2014: A taxi driver in Lancashire was robbed by three passengers who racially abused him, damaged his vehicle and beat him with a belt. (Rossendale Free Press, 10 February 2014)

29 January 2014: An Asian teenager who was beaten and stabbed in a racist attack by about fifteen people in Glasgow complained to the police about their handling of the investigation. The attack took place following the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013, and the victim said he had barely heard from the police after the event. (Scotland Herald, 29 January 2014)

20 January 2014: A 45-year-old man who attacked a Sikh shopkeeper in Burnley in 2013, trying to stab him with a kitchen knife and shouting racist abuse, admitted attempted murder. The defendant was sent to a secure mental hospital. (Lancashire Telegraph, 20 January 2014)

8 January 2014: A man was sentenced to 14 months in prison following an attack in a supermarket car park in Grays, Essex, in which he hurled racist abuse at two men and threatened one with a hammer and a knife. During the incident, he said to one of the men ‘you are not the right colour to speak to me’. (Maldon Standard, 9 January 2014)

7 January 2014: A 23-year-old man was given a one year prison sentence after posting online several videos filmed at a white pride music event stirring up  ‘racial hatred’. The former National Front member, who had at one point impersonated Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, posted footage of himself in KKK attire staging a mock lynching. At the time of sentencing he was reported to be a member of the West Midlands Infidels, and at a previous hearing he gave a ‘white supremacist gesture’ as he left court. (Guardian, 7 January 2014)

7 January 2014: An eastern European man was racially abused in Merseyside by two men who later went to his home, kicked the front door and fired a ball bearing gun. (BBC News, 8 January 2014)

January 2014: Footage was released of supporters of the EDL and the English Volunteer Force (EVF) trying to enter an Islamic Centre in Purley. Locked out, the men turned to a camera and said that the building was an ‘illegal mosque’ and that they would be back to ‘have the place over’. According to the Croydon Guardian, there were conversations between people on Facebook discussing when the building would be targeted, with one person saying ‘We don’t want to spoil the surprise for the muzzies.’ (Croydon Guardian, 23 January 2014)


Read an IRR News story: ‘Spotlight on racial violence: July – December 2013

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

One thought on “Spotlight on racial violence: January – March 2014

  1. BBC News, ITV News and local papers, The Bolton News and Manchester Evening News, report on hate crime incidents reported to Greater Manchester Police last year.

    According to the BBC, Greater Manchester Police recorded over 3000 incidents of hate crime during the period between April and December 2013.

    Of the 3,282 incidents of hate crimes in Greater Manchester, an overwhelming majority of 2,687 (or 82%) were race-related, 244 were religious hate crimes, 338 were against sexual orientation, 106 were related to disability, 35 against transgender people and a further 21 targeting sub-cultures.

    According to Manchester Evening News, the police recorded more than 60 cases a week of victims of abuse and violence motivated by either race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

    The news outlets also report that with Hate Crime Awareness Week underway this week, an announcement on the expansion of the network of third-party reporting centres is expected. Victims will be able to report incidents to trained staff if they are not comfortable approaching the police and the staff, in turn, will offer victim’s support and pass incident details on to the police. According to the Mirfield Reporter, new centres have also been opened in Kirklees.

    The Bolton News observes that there were 360 reports of hate crime in Bolton alone, making up 12% of the hate crime incidents in Greater Manchester. Like the overall figures in Greater Manchester, Detective Inspector Charlotte Cadden acknowledged that “the majority of hate crimes in the local area are racial or religious incidents”.

    The trend of such crimes being predominantly driven by race hate was also prevalent in Kirklees. Home Office statistics show that 82% of the 585 incidents and crimes were related to race, according to the Mirfield Reporter.

    Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “The impact of hate crime extends far beyond the initial incident.

    “By their very nature, hate crimes are very personal attacks that leave victims, who are often already vulnerable individuals, feeling defenceless physically and emotionally.

    “Because of this, victims may be reluctant to report the crime or – worse still – may come to accept hate crime as an inevitable part of their lives.”

    Similarly, a ‘spike’ in anti-Muslim hate crimes has also been apparent in Cambridge. According to Cambridge News, police figures reveal that in the two year period between January 2011 and December 2012, there were 12 anti-Muslim hate crimes in Cambridge. There were also only two hate crimes in the period from October 2012 to March 2013.

    In comparison, between April and June 2013, there were 12 Islamophobic hate crimes in Cambridge. The local paper notes the increase of hate crimes against Muslims as attributed to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in London last year.

    Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said: “These are disturbing figures relating to despicable crimes often driven by no other motive than the fact that the victim has different religious beliefs or a different colour skin.”

    The Metropolitan Police Service revealed last month that it recorded 500 Islamophobic crimes in London alone, in response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Press Association to all police forces regarding the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents recorded across England and Wales.

    Although the FOI shows that Islamophobic crimes is increasing, the extent of the scale is unknown because of a lack of reliable and comprehensive data. Not only did only 24 of the 43 police forces approached respond to the FOI, but only two police forces, the Metropolitan Police Service in London and Greater Manchester Police, record Islamophobia as a category of hate crime.

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