Reflection on news outlets calling an attack “terrorism” after Finsbury Park

Guardian journalist, Paul Chadwick, responds to concerns about what should be considered terrorism. He said he started calling the incident a terrorist attack early but it was not premature.

He says events can be called terrorist attacks if they involve “serious harm to random innocents, a location and/or victims with symbolic resonance, apparent intent to generate widespread fear, and a political purpose.” A political purpose means aims at pressuring government or intimidating populations, often stemming from nationalism, racism, or religious fanaticism.

He argues that journalists do not need to wait for courts and official pronouncements to call something “terrorism.” Based on witness reports, journalists on the scene at Finsbury Park decided to call the incident a terrorist attack.

In the case of the Guardian, at 2:01am, about two hours after the attack, the live blog contextualised the event by referencing recent terrorist attacks. The crime correspondent arrived on scene at 3:07am. The correspondent reported at 3:54am that counter-terrorism police were there and at 4:45 am reported that the Muslim Council of Britain described the incident as a terrorist attack. At 5:15am, Prime Minister Threresa May classified the event as “a potential terrorist attack.”

 

Racist right-wing social media glorifies terrorism against Muslims after the Finsbury Park Attack

The far-right group, Britain First, posted about the Finsbury Park Mosque terrorist attack on its Facebook page. Many of the responses to the post tried to justify the attack on Muslims.

One respondent said, “The muslims are asking for it [sic]”. Other comments followed similar themes of victim blaming.

Others praised the terrorist, Darren Osborne, who was called a “patriot” and “hero” on the social media site. Others critiqued the small death toll from his attack.

The person who reported the threatening comments to the Home Office was concerned that these threatening comments against Muslims would not be treated with the same seriousness as similar (or milder) comments made by alleged Islamist extremists.

Under the Terrorism Act of 2006, these Facebook comments could be considered a crime because they may amount to an “encouragement of terrorism.”

 

Sexual violence, criminality, and immigration: Germany discusses how to report on immigrants’ criminal offences

With the Berlin Christmas market attack, security questions have become dominant on the German political scene. Especially the domain of immigration law is becoming more securitised by the day as politicians propose more restrictive immigration policies, as well as greater scope for surveillance operations on the part of intelligence agencies.

Beyond the Berlin attack, however, a range of other incidents and developments continue to feed into this securitisation dynamic. Among them are not just the large-scale sexual assaults that occurred in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve 2015/2016, but also an increasingly agitated discussion on crime and criminality among refugees and asylum-seekers in general.

Sexual assaults

A milestone in this regard has been the highly mediatised case of the rape and murder of a 19-year old student by a 17-year old Afghan refugee in the city of Freiburg. To many, this case – especially as it came after a series of other rapes and acts of violence in the Freiburg region – demonstrated the direct linkage between increased immigration and a worsening security situation.(( http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/mord-an-studentin-in-freiburg-risse-im-idyll-a-1124344.html ))

The case gained added salience due to the fact that, like the 17-year-old Afghan who had attacked the passengers of a regional train near Würzburg in July, the perpetrator of Freiburg was living in a local host family. He thus appeared to have all the possibilities to integrate and build a successful life in Germany.

Since then, two other high-profile cases of assault against women have come to light: in Bochum, a 31-year-old Iraqi asylum-seeker apparently raped and grievously injured two students of the local university.(( http://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/ruhrgebiet/neue-details-nach-sexuellen-uebergriffen-in-bochum-100.html )) And in Hameln, a Kurdish man tied his wife to the back of his car by a rope around her neck and drove off, dragging her through the town’s streets.(( http://www.huffingtonpost.de/2016/11/21/hamel-bluttat-auto-schlei_n_13122450.html ))

Difficult reporting decisions

The media have been placed under close scrutiny with respect to their reporting strategies in the aftermath of these events. In a controversial move, Germany’s most-watched nightly TV news magazine, the Tagesschau running at 8 pm on the ARD public broadcaster, initially chose not to mention the arrest of the 17-year-old Afghan charged with raping and killing the Freiburg student.

The network subsequently justified this decision by arguing that the Tagesschau “only very rarely reports on individual criminal cases” because as a national-level news magazine, it is focused on “societally, nationally, and internationally relevant events. A murder case does not number among such events.”(( http://blog.tagesschau.de/2016/12/04/der-mordfall-von-freiburg/ ))

The news magazine’s head editor, Kai Gniffke, asserted that his programme “cannot and does not want to report on every single one of the around 300 murder cases per year (although it is interesting to note that this number has dramatically decreased over the course of the last 15 years).”(( http://blog.tagesschau.de/2016/12/04/der-mordfall-von-freiburg/ ))

Harsh criticism of editorial choices

The criticism directed at the Tagesschau’s editorial desk for its decision not to discuss the case was, nevertheless, fierce. It came not only from the right-wing fringe but also from outlets such as the mainstream conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

In a vitriolic commentary on the matter, the paper asserted that the Tagesschau’s unwillingness to report on the case justified labelling the ARD public broadcaster “Lückenpresse”—‘lacunae press’, or ‘press with gaps’. This constitutes an unabashed reference to the slogan “Lügenpresse” (‘liar’s press’), a term of disparagement of the ‘mainstream media’ with a strong National Socialist legacy that today is widespread among partisans of the new populist right.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/medien/tagesschau-berichtet-nicht-ueber-ermordete-studentin-in-freiburg-14560129-p2.html ))

The fact that one of the country’s major respectable newspapers should so openly accuse another standard media outlet of being complicit in a pro-immigrant cover-up mandated by political elites demonstrates the extent to which populist language and demands have seeped into public debates.

Scrutinising empirical data

As a result, there is now an expectation that any serious crime committed by a refugee or asylum-seeker must be reported on immediately. Crimes perpetrated by immigrants are thus deemed more newsworthy and more dangerous than crimes committed by ethnic Germans.

At the same time, empirical data on the actual number of offences committed by asylum-seekers or refugees has scarcely figured in these debates. According to numbers released by the Federal Criminal Police Office, 5.7 per cent of all suspects involved in criminal cases in 2015 were asylum-seekers or other individuals without residence status.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/panorama/zuwanderer-und-kriminalitaet-mord-in-freiburg-ein-absoluter-ausnahmefall-1.3291719.

In Germany, these other persons without official residence status include not just ‘illegal’ immigrants. They also include more than 150,000 individuals under the peculiar legal regime of ‘Duldung’ (literally ‘toleration’ in English). Duldung merely connotes the temporary suspension of deportation; consequently, ‘geduldete’ individuals do not have access to most of the state’s social and financial services, no right to work, and no right to participate in integration courses. Their freedom of movement is restricted to their locality.))

The most common offence with which these individuals have been charged is theft, amounting to a quarter of all criminal cases, followed by fare evasion on public transport (17 per cent). Another quarter of cases concern bodily harm, aggravated theft, or coercion. Sexual offences amount to 1.3 per cent of all cases.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fluechtlinge-bka-bericht-fluechtlinge-begehen-weniger-straftaten-1.3315641 ))

Make-up of perpetrators and victims

94 per cent of the interpersonal violence is directed at other immigrants.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fluechtlinge-bka-bericht-fluechtlinge-begehen-weniger-straftaten-1.3315641 )) Especially Germany’s overcrowded refugee shelters have often been identified as conducive to outbreaks of violence.

Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans – collectively making up two thirds of immigrants – are responsible for only 33 per cent of criminal offences perpetrated. Conversely, immigrants from the Balkans and from the Maghreb countries are over-represented among criminal suspects.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fluechtlinge-bka-bericht-fluechtlinge-begehen-weniger-straftaten-1.3315641 ))

Overall, in the first three quarters of 2016, immigrants were involved in 214,600 criminal offences. Over the course of these three quarters of the year, the number of crimes recorded dropped by 23 per cent, potentially reflecting a growing degree of settledness of the newly arrived migrants. Over the same time period, 67,300 anti-immigrant crimes were recorded.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fluechtlinge-bka-bericht-fluechtlinge-begehen-weniger-straftaten-1.3315641 ))

Making sense of the numbers

Experts have remained cautious as to which conclusions to draw from these shifting and volatile numbers. Importantly, criminologists point to the need to tackle widespread impoverishment, especially with respect to the Balkans and North Africa: migrants from these regions are drawn into the powerful crime and mafia networks headquartered in their home countries; and participation in these networks is one of the few reliable sources of a stable income.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/panorama/zuwanderer-und-kriminalitaet-mord-in-freiburg-ein-absoluter-ausnahmefall-1.3291719-2 ))

Against this backdrop, recent cutbacks to social and financial support given to immigrants are seen in a sceptical light: whilst these restrictions are ostentatiously aimed at curbing the influx of migrants by disincentivising the perilous and expensive journey to Germany, they might jeopardise the ability of already arrived refugees to build a stable life in the country and thus to do without the networks of organised crime.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/panorama/zuwanderer-und-kriminalitaet-mord-in-freiburg-ein-absoluter-ausnahmefall-1.3291719-2 ))

Speaking on the Muslim debating programme Forum am Freitag, sociologist Ahmet Toprak highlighted that the perpetrators of violent crimes, particularly sex offences, generally share a set of characteristics—across all ethnic or religious divides. Aside from psychopathological diseases these characteristics include social isolation, lack of education, a history of violence running in the family, as well as intense experiences of violence during childhood and adolescence.(( https://www.zdf.de/kultur/forum-am-freitag/forum-am-freitag-vom-16-dezember-2016-fluechtlinge-und-gewalt-100.html ))

Putting crime into perspective

Empirical figures as well as sociological and criminological studies thus put into perspective the alarmist language on crime and criminality supposedly emanating from refugees and immigrants. Yet they also highlight particular problem areas.

Immigrants driven from their countries of origin by poverty and lack of economic opportunity with slim chances of obtaining a residence permit in Germany are more likely to become enmeshed in crime. This is particularly true if these criminal organisations already have a strong presence in the home countries (and are perhaps even the ones who can facilitate and finance the travel of migrants to Germany and Europe).

Moreover (and even more difficultly), among the many immigrants fleeing war and persecution, there might very well be a certain number whose own biographies of violence and dislocation make them more prone to the commission of violent acts. This is of course not the same as claiming that, for instance, ‘Afghans as such’ are criminals.

Yet such nuance might be difficult to maintain in a context in which the failure to explicitly ‘name and shame’ a sex offender if he is an immigrant is lambasted as complicity in political correctness.

Psych exam ordered for man accused of threatening military

CLEVELAND — A federal judge has ordered a man charged with soliciting people to kill members of the military to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
Cleveland.com reports (http://bit.ly/29c333x ) that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ordered the evaluation Monday after 23-year-old Terrence McNeil appeared to laugh when the judge told him he could face life in prison if convicted of solicitation of a crime of violence and threatening military personnel.
Authorities say McNeil posted online the names and addresses of more than 100 military personnel and asked people to kill them on behalf of the Islamic State group. He was indicted in December.

Firm condemnation of the heinous massacre in Orlando: Statement by the Great Mosque of Paris

Source: http://www.mosqueedeparis.net/condamnation-du-massacre-dorlando-aux-etats-unis/

Statement by the Great Mosque of Paris

June 13, 2016

During this sacred month of Ramadan tolerance, friendship, and fraternity among human beings are the fundamental values that the Qur’an requires of all faithful followers throughout the world to carry out with dignity as the fourth pillar of Islam. It’s the month of forgiveness, of abstention from violence and of respect for others.

Sadly, an abominable crime committed this weekend in the United States in Orlando (Florida), causing more than one hundred victims, has ended this period of peace and contemplation.

The Great Mosque of Paris firmly denounces and condemns this intolerable affront to human life and asks all Muslims to formally condemn this criminal act committed and carried out in the name of Islam. The horror of these unspeakable acts can seriously harm the image of Muslims and Islam.

Paris, Monday 13 June 2016 Rector Dalil Boubakeur

A JOINT MUSLIM STATEMENT ON THE CARNAGE IN ORLANDO

On behalf of the American Muslim community, we, the undersigned, want to extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the barbaric assault that occurred early yesterday morning at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We unequivocally say that such an act of hate-fueled violence has no place in any faith, including Islam. As people of faith, we believe that all human beings have the right to safety and security and that each and every human life is inviolable.
We know that, given the tenor of the times, some will associate this tragedy with the religion of the perpetrator. While we may never learn conclusively what motivated this misguided individual, many news sources claim that he was motivated by his faith, which would be a reprehensible distortion of Islam adding the religion to the long list of innocent victims in this callous crime. Any such acts of violence violate every one of our Prophet’s teachings. For Muslims, that this carnage occurred in the blessed month of Ramadan—a month of charity, introspection, and self-purification—only adds to the foulness of this enormity.
Orlandostatement.com: http://orlandostatement.com/

UKIP Candidate says he wants to license mosques

A Ukip candidate who previously said the Prophet Mohamed was a "gang leader" and likened Islam to organised crime has announced that he would want to "licence mosques" if elected. (Photo: Channel 4)
A UKIP candidate who previously said the Prophet Mohamed was a “gang leader” and likened Islam to organised crime has announced that he would want to “licence mosques” if elected. (Photo: Channel 4)

A UKIP candidate who previously said the Prophet Mohamed was a “gang leader” and likened Islam to organised crime has announced that he would want to “licence mosques” if elected. Magnus Nielsen, who is UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, told the Ham & High that his “great aim” was to “licence the mosques and licence the clergy”.

“So that if the clergy are preaching doctrine that is in contravention of UK law and human rights then they lose their licences,” he added. “If the mosque can’t find a licensed imam, they have to close down until they can.” The 65-year-old, who joined UKIP in 1993, has often stressed that his views on Islam are not official UKIP policy.

In a blog post published a day after the attacks in which 17 people were killed by Islamic extremists, UKIP MP Gerard Batten argued that individuals who practice the faith should sign the charter to mark themselves out from the “tiny minority of Muslims who want to return to the Dark Ages of Arabia and live under Sharia Law”. When reports of the charter emerged in 2014, party leader Nigel Farage distanced himself from it and said its contents “are not and never have been UKIP policy”.

British Muslim school children getting abuse following Paris Attacks

Muslim pupils across Britain are suffering a backlash of bullying and abuse following the Charlie Hebdo massacre amid a broad rise in Islamophobia in schools, which the Government is failing to tackle, campaigners have told The Independent. (Photo: Don McPhee/The Guardian)
Muslim pupils across Britain are suffering a backlash of bullying and abuse following the Charlie Hebdo massacre amid a broad rise in Islamophobia in schools, which the Government is failing to tackle, campaigners have told The Independent. (Photo: Don McPhee/The Guardian)

Muslim pupils across Britain are suffering a backlash of bullying and abuse following the Charlie Hebdo massacre amid a broad rise in Islamophobia in schools, which the Government is failing to tackle, campaigners have told The Independent.

The sole UK charity monitoring anti-Muslim hate crime said it had recorded a “significant” increase in incidents in schools in the wake of the killings in Paris with both parents and teachers reporting verbal and physical attacks against Muslim students.

Teachers unions and anti-racism groups told The Independent they have recorded an increase in Islamophobic incidents in schools with the 400,000 Muslim pupils in British schools increasingly likely to be taunted as “terrorists”, “paedophiles” or “immigrants”. The NASUWT, the teaching union, said the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment is causing “uncertainty and fear” in schools.

Tell MAMA, which monitors anti-Muslim hate crime in Britain, said it had logged 112 reports of physical and verbal violence in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, including nine incidents which related specifically to schools in locations from West Yorkshire to East Sussex.

The organisation, which was recommended by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last week in a letter subsequently criticised by Muslim groups for appearing to ask Muslims to prove their British identity, said it had been repeatedly rebuffed by a “short-sighted” Department for Education (DfE) in efforts to seek its support in offering training for schools in how to deal with Islamophobia.

“‘Hate crime’: Taxi driver recounts brutal attack”

From Komo News (Komo Staff):

“Officers arrested a 26-year-old man early Sunday after he called a taxi driver a “terrorist” and beat him unconscious, causing the cab to drift out of control and strike several parked cars before slamming into an apartment building in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, police said.

Investigators labeled the attack a “hate crime.”

[Read Full Text of Article Here]

Investigations into Dutch Moroccan Criminal Traffic

July 31, 2014

Hundreds of Dutch Moroccan youths are reported to be involved in a string of robberies and at least six gangland killings in the Netherlands and Belgium, according to Volkskrant newspaper, which bases its claims on police investigations into the killings. According to the reports, robberies occur in the Netherlands and then the perpetrators travel to Morocco, which does not deport its nationals.

Dutch public prosecution has an agreement with the Moroccan authorities to facilitate prosecution of those involved in the Netherlands under Moroccan law.  The agreement was signed in 2012 under the responsibilities of the justice ministry. Last week, Hamza B, suspected of a double shooting in Amsterdam in December 2012, became the first to go on trial in Morocco under the new agreement.