Far right ‘infiltrating children’s charities with anti-Islam agenda’

As we have seen with the gilets jaunes, rightwing groups take advantage of opportunities to advance their messages and undermine some of the original motives of protesters or those concerned:

Rightwing groups including Ukip are attempting to “infiltrate” child protection charities to further an anti-Islam agenda, officials from the government’s counter-extremism programme believe.

Officers from Prevent said far-right figures were using voluntary groups to stir up tension in towns with historical problems of child sexual exploitation.

In Rochdale, a community group for child sexual abuse survivors, Shatter Boys, said it had been approached repeatedly by senior Ukip figures including Lord Pearson, who offered to introduce them to millionaire donors and fund an open-top bus to raise the alarm about grooming gangs.

Daniel Wolstencroft, the founder of Shatter Boys, said: “What they’re doing basically is grooming survivor groups and survivors of abuse. I think their fight is about Islam.”

Wolstencroft, who is an adviser to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, said Ukip in particular had attempted to “jump on the child abuse bandwagon” to further its own anti-Islam agenda.

Pearson’s offer of funding, made during a private lunch at the House of Lords, followed months of courting by the Ukip families spokesman, Alan Craig, who last year said Muslim grooming gangs had committed a “Holocaust of our children”.

Craig, who said paedophilia could be traced back “to Muhammad himself”, approached the Rochdale-based group on social media before attending one of its street patrols with a leading member of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA).

The Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, spoke at a rally in Rochdale organised by the DFLA last April. The DFLA has described the Greater Manchester town as being on its “hit list” for anti-grooming demonstrations.

The issue of child sexual exploitation by men of Pakistani heritage has become a key focus of Ukip under the leadership of Batten, who triggered a wave of senior resignations when he appointed the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser on grooming gangs.

How Ukip normalised far-right politics – video explainer

Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service’s former lead on child sexual abuse, said established charities were being “infiltrated by the far right who wish them to pursue a different agenda”.

Figures linked to the far right have also launched or promoted their own anti-grooming campaign groups in the past year, the Guardian has learned.

One of Robinson’s allies, Shazia Hobbs, launched an anti-grooming helpline at an event hosted by Pearson in parliament in December, which was attended by the For Britain leader, Anne Marie Waters.

Pearson was quoted after the event as saying: “If you touch this case, you immediately become an Islamophobe. Islam lies at the heart of this problem and most of this is a problem within Islam. We need to start talking about this openly.” Pearson and Ukip have not responded to requests for comment.

Another group, the National Anti Grooming Alliance & Helpline (NAGAH), was jointly set up by a member of the DFLA, John Clynch, last year after reports of a mass grooming gang in Telford, Shropshire.

Afzal, who prosecuted grooming gangs in Rochdale in 2012, described the NAGAH as “an alleged far-right front” that had been “created by the extreme right to further their own agenda”.

The NAGAH has attracted moral and financial support from Daniel Thomas, a close ally of Robinson, who is trying to raise £150,000 for the group with a charity boxing event.

The NAGAH’s co-founder Anthony Wood has described “Pakistani rape gangs” as “probably the biggest crime in this country’s history”.

Contacted by the Guardian, Wood said Clynch no longer worked for the NAGAH and that he had left the DFLA. Clynch has not returned a request for comment.

Wood said: “We are not far right at all, we are a community group … We have helped historic survivors, online cases, male survivors. It does not just focus on one area and we have stated this since day one.”

Thomas, who organises Robinson’s rallies, said there was “not a racist bone in the bodies” of those involved in the NAGAH and accused the media of “attempting to destroy a working class charity”.

Frontline Prevent workers said the issue of far-right groups infiltrating charities was “increasingly a concern” that had been raised with intervention providers across England.

Abdul Ahad, a Prevent officer in north-east England, said rightwing groups were using the grooming gangs issue to “appeal to people’s emotions”.

“It is a tactic they are trying to pursue. They can build up the relationship and trust and slowly but surely sink their claws in and then they’ve got them hook, line and sinker,” he said. “They then start spewing their [far-right] narrative before you know it. I know some charities have refused to have anything to do with the far right but it will be done very covertly and subtly.”

The number of people referred to Prevent over concerns about far-right activity rose by more than a third in the year to March 2018, accounting for nearly one in five of all cases.

Source: Far right ‘infiltrating children’s charities with anti-Islam agenda’

How we can build resilience against hatred in Canada

Good thoughtful advice (if Vancouver was the positive example of challenging hatred, Quebec city was the negative one given the violence of left-wing activists):

Some of Canada’s most urban centres were flooded with protesters Saturday and Sunday, from what President Trump would describe as “both sides” – those who were promoting racist, anti-immigration sentiment, and those who were opposing such hateful and intolerant rhetoric.

In Vancouver, for example, thousands of anti-racism supporters showed up Saturday to counter a rally that was planned by anti-immigrant demonstrators, essentially thwarting all efforts that were made by those who were promoting intolerance.

Protests were spawned from the disturbing events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va. the previous weekend, where a so-called Unite the Right rally quickly turned violent when white-power demonstrators clashed with counter-demonstrators. Dozens of protesters were injured, and three people died, including 32-year-old Heather Heyer, when a vehicle was intentionally driven into a group of anti-racist counter-demonstrators.

Canadians watched in dismay as the hate-inspired violence unfolded south of the border, perhaps naïve to assume that such divisive ideologies do not – and cannot – exist in our multicultural nation. The truth of the matter is that Canada is not immune to violence inspired by bigotry and hatred.

In 2015, Professor Barbara Perry and I conducted a three-year study for Public Safety Canada on the state of the right-wing extremist movement in Canada, interviewing law-enforcement officials, community activists, and current and former right-wing extremists across the country, paired with open-source intelligence. Results from our research was shocking to many Canadians.

In short, we found that Canada’s right-wing extremist movement was alive and well: we identified over 100 active groups and well over 100 incidents of right-wing extremist violence over the last 30 years in the country. We also uncovered that the threat of the extreme right had been overlooked and even trivialized by a number of key stakeholders, thus hindering their ability to effectively respond to the radical right in Canada.

In turn, we proposed evidence-based strategies that we saw as effective in responding to right-wing extremism in Canada, suggesting that a multi-sectoral approach was needed to address hate and ensure that extremists have minimal impact on communities. This included the integration and utilization of an array of experts, such as police officers, policy makers, victim service providers, community organizations and the media.

In the two years since our Public Safety report was released, I’ve been watching very closely as hate-inspired events have unfolded across Canada and how key stakeholders have responded to such events. I’ve noticed that some of our key recommendations are being put to practice – the counter-demonstration in Vancouver is but one example. This is an encouraging sign.

We are seeing community groups ban together to spread messages of tolerance, and local, provincial and federal politicians are taking a public stance against hatred, making it clear that such sentiment does not represent Canadian beliefs and will not be tolerated. Reporters and journalists have also dedicated an increasing amount of time and energy to shed light on right-wing extremism in Canada, highlighting its complexities and prevalence. Stakeholders are now including their voices in the discussions about how we can build resiliency against hatred, which starts by raising awareness of the problem and mobilizing the public.

Some, though, are calling for the outright filtering of those who subscribe to extreme-right beliefs. Do not let them have an outlet for their negative views, the argument goes. This would mean not allowing them to hold a rally or have a website. This approach is counteractive, and perhaps irresponsible. This is a Band-aid solution – the views will still be there, and will only get stronger, solidifying radical right-wing ideologies. Right-wing extremists generally believe that the mainstream media and the broader public are systematically attempting to suppress their radical views, so prohibiting them from expressing their views will further reinforce their hateful beliefs.

We must not stay home when hatemongers are protesting in the streets. Adherents should never be able to promote hatred. At the same time, we cannot assume that silencing them is the solution.

Instead, Canadians must continue to attend their demonstrations, challenge ideas and not people specifically, and in a peaceful manner – like we saw in Vancouver this past weekend. Stand up against racism, xenophobia and bigotry by challenging adherents’ views, but do not engage with them. Most are easy to provoke, and most want to be provoked. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Source: How we can build resilience against hatred in Canada – The Globe and Mail