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Shocking levels of hatred, violence, bigotry and religious intolerance has been unearthed among the readership of a UK-based media platform which reports on national and international Muslim news, an investigation by AltNewsMedia reveals today.
5pillars was set up in April 2013 and calls itself “Britain’s biggest Muslim news and opinion website” having amassed a sizable 12,000 Twitter followers and more than a quarter of a million ‘likes’ on Facebook. They recently agreed to be externally regulated by press regulator IMPRESS and instruct users of its social media pages that there should be no “racism, fascism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia” as well as stating that “anti-Islamic posts will be removed”.
But an investigation by AltNewsMedia has shown widespread anti-British sentiments, homophobia, anti-Semitism and racism across its social media platforms and website, as well as comments advocating violence and expressing sympathy with the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby.
On March 29, after Canadian journalist and political activist Lauren Southern was banned from the UK for handing out provocative leaflets in Luton proclaiming “Allah is gay”, Aston Villa fan Haych Huss accumulated 10 ‘likes’ on the 5pillars news story by writing “Hope her plane crashes and she is engulfed in flames on her way back. Early start as she will get the same in hell.” While on the same thread Sam Ahmed said “Stone her”, Iku Dar proclaimed “Let her go to hell” and self-employed Israr Ahmed, from Birmingham, added “Filthy slag let her burn in hell.”
And on March 29, in a court story about a man who stabbed a Muslim surgeon in the neck, former radio presenter Tofial Uddin, based in London and Sheffield, posted “I don’t think that the killer of Lee Rigby was mentally stable after being tortured in Kenya. Look at how he was dealt with” in an apparent defence of the barbaric terrorist.
Numerous comments reference violence and when the 5pillars team posted a photo of Prime Minister Theresa May talking at Maidenhead Mosque in February under the satirical caption “Hello, my name is Theresa. I’ve been implementing Islamophobic policies for many years as Home Secretary and Prime Minister…” one reader, Ivan Barbic of Melbourne, Australia, suggested “Someone completely cover her!! In a bodybag…”
Racism is also prominent and in one video featuring London Mayor Sadiq Khan reading out so-called ‘Islamophobic’ tweets, a user replies “Well at least it will help him realise that no matter how much of a coconut he becomes they will never accept him”. In a completely separate comment on the 5pillars website, Yusuf Islam responds to another readers’ comment by saying “Easy now. Let’s not bum the West too much. Too many coconuts these days.” The term ‘coconut’ is used to imply somebody is a traitor to their race and in 2010 Bristol councillor Shirley Brown was found guilty of racial harassment by British courts for using the offensive slur against an Asian political opponent.
The anti-British rhetoric is perhaps unsurprising given that 5pillars state on the ‘About us’ section of their website their belief that “Western/Israeli foreign policy is the main cause of the disasters afflicting the Muslim world”. And in a post about the Archbishop of Canterbury stating that Islamic rules are incompatible with British laws, London resident Mohammed Bulbulia echoed the sentiments in a somewhat more sinister tone, declaring “Yes, I agree. Islamic rules are not compatible with British rules. Islamic rules are divine. British rules are the product of Satanism.”
Anyone from the LGBT community reading the regular views expressed will also surely be alarmed to see brazen hostility towards homosexuals. In one post about a gay man being imprisoned, Newcastle resident Sayyid Al-Andalusi remarked “Sending a gay to prison is a punishment?” to which another responded “Of course no this idiot gay should face the same he should be hunged (sic).” Meanwhile in another website comment on the 5pillars website, Rafael Malinowski tells another poster “You undercover inciting non Muslim GAY kuffar keep your manipulating murtad sissy opinions to yourself.” And Mo Shades, another 5pillars regular, said “I refuse to go on the apologetic line and on the line of comprising (sic) Islamic values. I won’t start accepting gays, barring the hijab, rejecting the penal law etc just for acceptance or “defence” from the non-Muslims.”
But perhaps the most shocking aspect of our analysis was the level of anti-Semitism openly expressed by supporters, with references to Jews a frequent reality of reader responses. And in reference to Labour Party activist Tony Greenstein being expelled after breaching the party’s rules on three separate charges, the official 5pillars account claimed “This is the latest episode in a witch-hunt to expel pro Palestine activists from the party. And it’s happening under Jeremy Corbyn’s nose.”
When award-winning journalist and author Melanie Phillips, whose family is Jewish, suggested recently that ‘Islamophobia’ was a fiction invented to silence criticism, she faced a backlash with comments such as “Just another bog-standard Zionist rat. An uneducated one at that” and “She wouldn’t say the holocaust is fictional”. In March it was announced that Prince William was due to become the first Royal to visit Palestine, but London-based Nasima Sultana claimed “Britain is the cause of Palestine being handed over to the Zionists” while Andrew Brett added “No one cares for these dumb Jew royals”. And reformist Muslim Maajid Nawaz received a string of abuse in February for winning an award for fighting anti-Semitism, with one reader calling him a “devils foot soldier” and Naveed Zakaria declaring “May Allah resurrect him with his friends on the day of judgement, then we’ll see if he’s smiling or not.” Jewish connections were again in the firing line when it was announced that Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman was to be questioned by MPs over her support for banning young girls from wearing the hijab in schools, with Qaisar Khan posting “Her surname suggests she might be Jewish. I would like her to go after Jewish faith schools too. Would love to see her views on Jewish children’s dress code unless she thinks the so called master race are free to do as they please.”
AltNewsMedia put the findings of our investigation to the 5pillars editorial team and asked them for comment but at the time of publication had not received a response.
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