Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Does it really take a £1m organisation to combat people saying rude things about Islam on the Internet?

Hope not Hate last night reposted a Channel 4 news article headlined "EDL 'linked to a third' of
Data based on 'Tell MAMA's figures -
but they are losing their grant because
of doubts about their accuracy
online anti-Muslim incidents".

The report, by the Centre for Fascist Studies at Teeside University, runs to 30 pages of analysis, but suffers from a serious drawback: its data is based on information provided to it by the 'Tell MAMA' campaign. Tell MAMA, which was founded by Fiyal Mughal last year and funded by the government, has just lost its central government grant because its figures were unreliable. In an article on June 9th in the Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan wrote:

"A controversial project claiming to measure anti-Muslim attacks will not have its government grant renewed after police and civil servants raised concerns about its methods.

The project, called Tell Mama, claimed that there had been a “sustained wave of attacks and intimidation” against British Muslims after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, with 193 “Islamophobic incidents” reported to it, rising to 212 by last weekend.

 The group’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, said he saw “no end to this cycle of violence”, describing it as “unprecedented”. The claims were unquestioningly repeated in the media.

Tell Mama and Mr Mughal did not mention, however, that 57 per cent of the 212 reports referred to activity that took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook, or that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. Not all the online abuse even originated in Britain.

Contrary to the group’s claim of a “cycle of violence” and a “sustained wave of attacks”, only 17 of the 212 incidents, 8 per cent, involved the physical targeting of people and there were no attacks on anyone serious enough to require medical treatment."

 The Teeside report focuses on incidents over a longer timescale, but the figures are broadly in line with those since the Woolwich incident. In the period 1st April 2012 to 30th April 2013, Tell MAMA has recorded 584 anti-Muslim hate crimes, of which 434 took place on-line, as opposed to 150 in the real world. Of these real world incidents, only 8% - 12 - involved 'extreme violence', although there is no indication of what extreme violence means. This is not to downplay the seriousness of assaults, but to show that of the 584 incidents recorded by Tell MAMA, only 2% involved anything more than what amounts to name-calling or insults.

HnH would like you to think that this is commonplace -
but even Tell MAMA's figures show this is not so
Of the real world incidents, only 29 out of 150 involved an identifiable link to the far-right, or 19.3% - a figure the report refers to as 'nearly a quarter', when it is actually 'nearly a fifth'. By 'far-right', the report refers to the BNP, NF and EDL and its offshoots: it specifically excludes UKIP (HnH take note).

There are several gaping holes in this data. Most noticeable is the lack of any indication of how many of the real world incidents which resulted in violence also had connections to the far-right, which leads us to believe the figures were pretty evenly spread. This would mean that statistically only 2.4 violent incidents took place with far-right links of the 12 recorded. Online, the situation was clearer, with 300 out of 434 incidents having links to the far-right, although even here the methodology was not clear - was passing on an internet 'meme' which could be considered anti-Muslim sufficient? As EDL membership is self-selecting and not limited to the UK, it is also not clear to what extent the data is valid.

What is interesting is to turn this data around the other way. Hope not Hate and its associated groups
Once again, HnH prove inept at
sorting data which doesn't fit
their agenda
have an annual turnover approaching £1m, and a significant number of staff. For the past year, it has involved itself in opposing hate crimes primarily against Muslims living in the UK. But that really highlights the scale of the problem facing Nick Lowles and Ruth Smeeth. On Tell MAMAs figures since the Woolwich incident, HnH's expensive organisation has essentially spent the last 6 weeks going after 40 EDL members who said rude things online about Muslims, and a further 17 people who shouted rude words at a Muslim in the street. According to the data in the Teeside report - and merging it with that released by Tell MAMA since the Woolwich incident - it means this expensive organisation has been chasing a mere 796 incidents, the vast majority of
Ruth Smeeth - may have
to step off the HnH
gravy train
which - 554 - amounted to Muslims being called rude names in internet postings. Of the real world incidents, only 12 - or 1.5% - involved violence, and only 2.4 - 0.3% -of those involved the far right. This does not seem to justify the scale of resources which Hope not Hate deploy, and explains their desperation to find another target before their own supporters begin to ask the same questions.

Without UAF to hide behind, Weyman
Bennet is just another political thug
The same problem is also facing the other supposedly anti-racist organisations, chief amongst which is Unite Against Fascism and its various offshoots. Many of these groups like UAF are simply front organisations for other political groups such as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) who use them for spreading their own propaganda. If organised fascism is seen to be defeated, this audience is lost to them and that
they can not afford to happen.

Hope not Hate is not all about the money. It is about the influence and the power that brings: the access to media which unquestioningly accepts what they say. It is a heady brew, rubbing shoulders with sympathetic MPs and Ministers, editors and journalists. By selectively using statistics, they are not combatting the problem of anti-Islamic attacks, they are making it seem worse than it is, and diverting efforts away from the majority of perpetrators of real-world incidents who have no connection to the far-right. If there is a better example of Hope not Hate failing in its primary task, we have yet to see it.

All of this adds to the evidence that many of the supposed racist incidents are orchestrated not by the far right, but by anti-racist groups desperate to hang on to their positions and bands of thoughtless followers. Incidents such as the careful desecration of Islamic graves we reported on yesterday appear increasingly calculated to extend what HnH and UAF define as 'far-right' into the political mainstream. We have seen continually decreasing attendances at EDL marches which the EDL leadership has attempted to combat by ever more desperate political stunts. We have seen the collapse of the BNP, with its own attempts to hijack the Woolwich incident descend into farce. The English Democrats attempts to harvest disillusioned members has resulted in the collapse of the party. Andrew Brons and his new political party have disappeared.

UKIP should be on their guard. Lowles, Smeeth, Bennett and Smith will not let power slip through their fingers, and will resort to almost any means to prevent their followers seeing their own irrelevance to the political debate. They recognise that unless they successfully convince their own followers that UKIP is more than a political threat, their ride on the gravy train is approaching the terminus, and we should be aware from past experience that there are almost no depths to which they will not stoop to avoid having to step off onto the platform.



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