Author: Tell MAMA UK | Date: 09 February 2018
Tell MAMA welcomes the prison sentence given to Darren Osborne for the murder of Makram Ali, 51, and the attempted murders of other people on 19 June last year.
This act of terror risked tearing at the fabric of our society further still and serves to remind us that when anti-Muslim hatred is allowed to fester unchallenged, it can, on rare occasions, result in murder. It should serve to reassure communities that the criminal justice system can and will act proportionately on extreme acts of hatred and murder.
Darren Osborne may have acted alone on that fateful evening but he was radicalised further by extremist anti-Muslim material online. We know from the prosecution evidence that Mr Osborne signed up for Twitter and may have interacted with Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen. He searched out materials online, including from the far-right Canadian website Rebel Media and Tommy Robinson. When searching out for examples of Muslims ‘celebrating’ terrorism, Mr Osborne landed on the conspiracy website InfoWars which had published a misleading story on this issue.
His handwritten note is said to have referred to Muslim people as ‘feral’ and described Muslim men as ‘rapists,’ holding entire communities responsible for the horrific child exploitation crimes in Rotherham. Hours before the attack, Osborne made no secret of his desire to kill as many Muslims as possible.
When the Prime Minister Theresa May rightly pointed out that Islamophobia is a form of extremism following this terror attack we must also review the violent and hate-filled rhetoric of the far-right online. In our 2016 annual report, titled A Constructed Threat: Identity, Intolerance and the Impact of Anti-Muslim Hatred, we called on social media platforms and search engine providers to do more to tackle the scourge of far-right extremism online. For example, we called on Google to “review how far-right websites are cheating its search algorithm through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order to improve their rankings on stories related to crime, sexual exploitation, and terrorism”.
Iman Atta OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, said:
“This guilty verdict shows us that radicalisation can take place through online sources and in this case, Osborne was consuming far right anti-Muslim hate extremist material. This also shows us the pervasiveness of anti-Muslim hate online which we all have a duty to challenge."
Steve Rose, who researches and writes about the far-right for Tell MAMA, said:
“Sections of the far-right rely upon a violent form of rhetoric to sell the idea of an impending civil war between Muslim and non-Muslim. It serves as a recruitment tool which has the potential to radicalise more vulnerable individuals. There needs to be a renewed focus on this form of hatred and its various manifestations online and how it manifests on the streets of the UK.”