The EDL have announced that they will be going to Leicester for their next national demo on 4th Feb. They say that this is in response to the “racist” attack on Rhea Page, who was assaulted by four women of Somali descent in Leicester in June 2010. The women all received suspended sentences in November.
The case would probably have passed unnoticed had it not been for the Daily Mail’s extremely selective and dishonest reporting of the most salacious details of the case. The Mail reported that Ms Page’s attackers shouted “Kill the white slag” and suggested that they were “freed” because “they weren’t used to drinking because they’re Muslims”. Cue much foaming at the mouth about racism cutting both ways and politically correct sentencing gone mad, etc.
Although it doesn’t make for such a good knee-jerk reactionary story, the facts of the case paint a rather different picture. It seems that both Page and the defendants claimed that racist comments had been made but there was insufficient evidence to support either set of claims. Indeed, the CPS stated that although “the comment ‘white bitch’ was reported to have been heard during the incident… this racist comment could not be attributed to any particular suspect and was not adopted by the group as a whole. There was therefore no realistic prospect of conviction for a racially aggravated offence.” They knew that there was insufficient evidence to make the case for racial aggravation in court.
The fact that the defence solicitor used the argument that the women were not used to drinking was not mentioned by the judge in sentencing. Instead he accepted the womens’ argument that they were victims of unreasonable force from Ms Page’s partner, and took this into consideration.
So the real picture of what went on looks much, much murkier than how it is being painted by the tabloids and their ever eager guard dogs in the EDL. A drunken confrontation in the city centre, during which both sides are alleged to have hurled racist abuse and Page’s boyfriend used unreasonable force to end. But that story doesn’t whip up enough hysteria to sell papers or get people to demos.
It’s also interesting the hypocrisy of the Mail’s coverage which is set up to suggest that these women got special treatment because they were Muslim. They themselves give special treatment to Ms Page (22) who is referred to as a woman throughout whilst the other women (aged 24-28) are referred to as a “girl gang” and “girls”. It is Ms Page’s interpretation that the attack was racially motivated that is treated as factual by the Mail even though it was rejected by the legal system.
The EDL take this one stage further than the Mail though by claiming that this case is “a clear example of a two tier system in which crimes perpetrated by ‘sensitive minorities’ (particularly British Muslims) are treated with far greater leniency than they would be if committed by a member of the majority population”. They do not give any other evidence of this two tier system in action or compare this sentence to other sentences in comparable cases where the perpetrators were white, so we presumably just have to take their word for it.
If, rather than selectively focussing on one prejudiced newspaper report of one crime, you look at the statistics on sentencing throughout the justice system, there is clear evidence of a racial divide… but not in the direction that the EDL claim. A recent study into over 1m court records found that black offenders were 44% more likely than white offenders to be jailed for driving offences, 38% more likely to be jailed for public disorder or possession of an offensive weapon and 27% more likely to be jailed for drug possession. Asian offenders were 41% more likely to be jailed for drugs offences than white offenders and 19% more likely to be jailed for shoplifting. For indictable offences, the percentage of those given immediate custody was 24% for white defendants, 27% for black defendants and 29% for Asian defendants.
The 2010 Department for Justice statistics agree. Despite whites being more likely to be convicted of indictable offences than other ethnic groups, a higher percentage of those in the BME groups were sentenced to immediate custody (White 23%, Black 27%, Asian 29% and Other 42%). They were also given longer average sentences of 20.8 months (Black) and 19.9 months (Asian) compared with 14.9 months for the White group. Any racism in the justice system is favouring whites, not other ethnic groups.
The EDL are refreshingly honest about their knowledge admitting “we accept that we do not have the full details of the case” but this hasn’t stopped them from constructing a whole theory of persecution of white people around it and rallying their troops for another assault on Leicester’s Muslim community.