Belfast woman exposed as EDL-supporting racist

Margaret BrophyA former North Belfast Catholic schoolgirl who travels to England to take part in mass anti-Muslim marches organised by the extreme right wing group the English Defence League (EDL) has been exposed by her former fiancé.

Margaret Brophy, who attended Little Flower Girls’ school and who lives in the Cliftonville area, regularly travels to England to take part in the often hate-filled marches and has even been pictured stewarding an event in Bristol.

A Facebook profile under the name Margaret Boomer Brophy has also come under the attention of a number of websites aimed at identifying members of the anti-Muslim group. Vile racist ‘jokes’ posted on Brophy’s Facebook refer to Islam as Pisslam with the rest of the content being too offensive to reprint.

On some of the sites, the 49-year-old mother and carer is branded as the “Irish Angel” – Angels being the name of the women’s wing of the group – and numerous racist posts and insults made under her name are shown.

Her former fiancé David Ewing said he wanted to highlight his ex-partner’s involvement with the group to the unsuspecting North Belfast community where she lives and works.

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Israel now, Ireland next: Dublin embassy in propaganda pics storm

Israeli embassy Twitter images

An Israeli spokesman has confirmed that offensive images featuring European national icons were sent from his embassy’s official social media accounts.

Dublin was not the only city to come into the Israeli propaganda sights. A montage of pictures also showed the Mona Lisa in Paris wearing a niqab and carrying a rocket launcher. Michaelangelo’s David was shown in Arab headgear and wired up as a suicide bomber with a warning to Italy, while Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid was shown holding a gun.

The Israel In Ireland Facebook and Twitter accounts have been blasted for sharing the series of controversial posts.

An embassy spokesman told the Irish Sun: “Yes they were sent from the official Facebook but they were taken down, I don’t know why. Often things get deleted for space reasons but it wasn’t taken down because of any complaints.”

But disgusted online viewers called on the Government to take decisive action.

One said: “Feckin’ Facebook has taken more action against Israel in Ireland than our own Govt! Useless, spineless cowards. Further disgusting imagery from the Israeli Embassy in Ireland @IsraelinIreland.” Another fumed: “A disgusting piece of propaganda incitement attempt by @IsraelinIreland – embassy in Dublin. Simply disgusting. #GazaUnderAttack.”

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Revealing report on anti-Muslim racism in Ireland

AMR reportAn informative report by Dr James Carr on racism and bigotry against Muslims in Ireland has been published by the University of Limerick. Based on a survey of Irish Muslims on their experiences of anti-Muslim hostility, complemented by one-to-one interviews and focus group discussions, the report found that 36% of respondents felt they had been targeted on the basis of being identified as Muslim.

Dr Carr writes: “The manner in which this hostility manifested varied. Participants reported experiencing physical assaults (22%) ranging from being struck, having hijabs forcibly removed, to being pushed, spat at; some reported being threatened or harassed (20%). A white Irish male revert to Islam recalls his experiences of physical forms of abuse: ‘I have been pushed and have had people spit in my face, for being Muslim’. Fewer participants (14%) indicated that they had property damaged. Those who detailed how this manifested referred to tyres being slashed, having eggs thrown at their home inter alia.”

The survey found that women, who were more easily identified as Muslim because of their dress, experienced higher levels of anti-Muslim hostility (44%) and discrimination (40%) than men (28% and 22% respectively). Women interviewees also reported their frustration at being subjected to anti-Muslim stereotyping and regarded condescendingly as passive victims of male oppression.

Dr Carr adds: “The discourse of oppressed Muslim women also serves to ‘legitimise’ the deployment of ‘liberation tactics’ by those would be ‘liberators’ of the oppressed. The impact these ‘tactics’ have on the Muslim female participants in this study includes shock, depression, feelings of fear and vulnerability. Jada explains how she was told to ‘take that thing rag off your head you you’re too good looking for that’ by a patient in the hospital she works in.”

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Thousands march against racism in Belfast

Belfast march against racism

Thousands of people have taken part in an anti-racism march in Belfast. Organisers said it was designed to “reassure ethnic and religious minorities in Northern Ireland”. Representatives of the Muslim community and trade unions were among those who spoke at a rally ahead of a march from Writers’ Square to Belfast City Hall.

It was organised in response to an upsurge in hate crime and controversial remarks about Islam by a pastor and First Minister Peter Robinson. Pastor James McConnell made a public apology on Friday for calling Islam “heathen” and “satanic”.

Saturday’s march was led by Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Nichola Mallon, Dr Donald Watts, president of the Irish Council of Churches and Dr Mazhar M Khan, a member of Northern Ireland’s Muslim community. Amnesty International, the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU) and the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) organised the event.

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The Economist defends right to incite religious hatred

Belfast rally against racism

The Economist has just posted a comment piece (“Ulster and Islam: Minarets and steeples”) on its Erasmus blog about the controversy unleashed by Pastor James McConnell’s diatribe against Islam and its subsequent defence by First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson. It concludes:

Mr Robinson’s defence of the right of preachers to “denounce false doctrine” was politically inept, to put it mildly, and it showed a peculiar understanding of the role of a secular politician. But in a narrow way he is right. Under any legal regime which upholds free speech, so long as it does not advocate violence, preachers (including Islamic ones) do have the legal right to denounce beliefs that they regard as false. There were hard discussions about this when Britain introduced legislation on “religious hatred” in the wake of the 2005 London bombings; and to the relief of free-speech advocates, language which would virtually have prohibited robust religious debate was struck out.

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Islam row: Peter Robinson makes public apology for causing offence to Muslims after meeting in Belfast

Peter Robinson with Muslim leadersFirst Minister Peter Robinson has publicly apologised for offence caused to Muslims following comments he made in defence of a firebrand pastor who denounced Islam as “satanic”.

Speaking outside the Islamic Centre in Belfast following a meeting with Muslim leaders, Mr Robinson said he had made a “face-to-face, man-to-man” apology.

“I have had a very welcoming visit to the Belfast Islamic Centre. I have been received in friendship, and respect,” he said. “I came here to make it very clear that the members of the Islamic community are a very important and valued part of our society in Northern Ireland. I know many of you centre on an issue of an issue of an apology – I apologise to these gentlemen, if anything I said had caused them hurt. I can see in many cases, it has. I say I apologise, face-to-face, man-to-man. The way it should be done.”

Last week the DUP leader came under fire for defending the Pastor James McConnell’s remarks, telling the Irish News he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or those devoted to sharia law, which covers everything from public executions to what adherents should do if colleagues invite them to the pub after work or college. Mr Robinson said he would “trust them to go to the shops” for him. He later clarified his own remarks and met Muslim leaders in Belfast to apologise privately.

But despite offering a public apology to Muslims, this evening Mr Robinson fell short of condemning comments made by Pastor McConnell during a sermon last month. After addressing the waiting media, one man – who had earlier visited the Islamic Centre – brought up the issue of Mr Robinson’s defence of the controversial pastor’s remarks.

“It is not the role of any politician to give give doctrinal opinions,” Mr Robinson said tonight. “I am not a theologian, I am not in a position to give the view of doctrine. People have a right to free speech, but everyone who has that right…they must exercise that right with responsibility, and care.”

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Pakistani man vows to flee Northern Ireland after race-hate attacks, blaming anti-Islamic atmosphere

Muhammad Asif KhattakA Pakistani man has vowed to flee Northern Ireland after he and a friend were injured in two racially motivated attacks – carried out within a matter of hours.

Less than 24 hours after attending an anti-racism rally in Belfast, friends Muhammad Khattak and Haroon Khan were assaulted and had their north Belfast home set upon by thugs yesterday.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Khattak blamed the atmosphere stirred up by the fallout of an anti-Islamic sermon given by Pastor James McConnell, who was later backed by First Minister Peter Robinson.

In the six months since they moved into their home in Parkmount Street in the north of the city, they said they have suffered constant racial abuse.

Mr Khattak (24) said Peter Robinson’s remarks about not trusting Muslim terrorists “cast suspicion over every Muslim”. And he said the controversial words of Pastor McConnell gave his attackers “the licence” to do what they did. “They have lit the fire in the forest and it is not going to stop,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

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Peter Robinson should make public apology, says speaker at Belfast anti-racism rally

Belfast rally against racism

One of the speakers at an anti-racism rally attended by thousands of people in Belfast on Saturday has called for the First Minister to make a public apology over recent comments he made about the Islamic faith.

Mohammed Samaana has worked as a staff nurse at the Ulster Hospital for over a decade. A member of the Muslim community, he has been the victim of racist attacks in Northern Ireland. He told UTV that the First Minister Peter Robinson should apologise publicly for recent controversial comments he made about Muslims.

The DUP leader’s comments appeared to defend controversial evangelical pastor James McConnell, whose sermon about Islam is being investigated by police. Mr Robinson has previously insisted his remarks were “misinterpreted and given a meaning that was never intended”. He met with NI’s Muslim leaders earlier this week at Stormont Castle, where he apologised in private.

Mr Samaana said the apology should not have been behind closed doors and he is angry that the First Minister has not apologised to all Muslims. “I heard the insult – but I haven’t heard the apology. I heard that he apologised before three men behind closed doors – that’s not an apology, ” he said. He wants a public apology and for Peter Robinson to condemn the recent negative comments made by Pastor McConnell.

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Row after Robinson backs ‘Islam’ sermon

Peter RobinsonFirst Minister Peter Robinson has defended the evangelical pastor who is at the centre of a police investigation into a sermon which has been accused of amounting to a hate crime against Muslims.

Pastor James McConnell sparked controversy when he likened “cells” of Muslims in Britain to the IRA and told his congregation that Islam was a “heathen” doctrine which had been “spawned in hell”. The preacher, from the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle on the Shore Road in north Belfast, has already told UTV that he stands by his comments and has rebuffed calls for an apology.

Representatives of the Muslim community in Northern Ireland have expressed shock.

But, in an interview with the Irish News, DUP leader Peter Robinson said it was “the duty of any Christian preacher to denounce false doctrine”. The politician, who attends the church in question, added: “He’s perfectly entitled to do that – it’s an appropriate thing for a minister to do.”

Mr Robinson said he did not trust Muslims who were involved in “terrorist activities” or those “fully devoted to Sharia law”. According to the First Minister, not trusting someone does not amount to hate crime, using an example of the media not trusting politicians.

In a later interview with UTV, Mr Robinson said he stood by the comments and that his interview had been taken out of context. He said: “Of course there are people out there who are up to mischief and want to sensationalise what was said. The reality of course is that many Muslims in Northern Ireland have made a very significant contribution to life in Northern Ireland. But would I trust them for spiritual advice? No, I wouldn’t and that’s a matter of fact.”

When asked about those Muslims who have said they feel aggrieved by the First Minister’s comments, Peter Robinson added: “The people who will be offended would be those who are Muslim terrorists, those who carry out Sharia law, and those who want to offer me spiritual advice. Those are the only people who I referred to.”

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Presbyterian moderator slams Pastor’s Islam comments

The moderator of the Presbyterian Church has criticised remarks made by Pastor James McConnell who described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic” in a sermon. Pastor McConnell, of north Belfast’s Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, made the comments last Sunday.

Speaking yesterday on Sunday Sequence this week, Rev Dr Rob Craig said the comments were unacceptable. “They are not consistent with the Gospel of Christ and the love of God,” he said. “I would be deeply offended if someone were to brand either all Presbyterians or all Christians with some extreme act by someone who claimed to do it in the name of Christ. I want to treat my neighbour as I would want to be treated myself.”

Police have said they are investigating Pastor McConnell’s comments. He told his congregation “a new evil had arisen” and “there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain”.

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