Tag Archives: Thurnby Lodge

Pig’s head man gets off

Liam Ferrar, the man who put a pig’s head at the door of a community centre used by a Muslim group, has escaped jail. Ferrar, a prominent member of the EDL-led Forgotten Estates group was given a suspended 12 week jail sentence and ordered to do 250 hours community service and pay costs. Ferrar pleaded guilty to religiously-motivated harassment in January.

Whilst much was made in court about Ferrar’s remorse and how he’ll never do it again, the act was clearly premeditated. He obtained the head many months before the act and kept it in his freezer.

That said, it’s a good thing that Ferrar wasn’t jailed. Leicester EDL would have loved to have had a martyr for their cause and would have been banging on to anyone who’d listen about their fabled “two-tier justice system” and how the CPS are all communists. Importantly, As Salaam’s imam made a statement to the effect that they were satisfied that justice had been done and it is good that no one had to go through the dehumanising experience of prison.

The EDL, however, are baying for blood about another incident:

LeicesterEDL 120213At first glance this looks like another made up story, like the one about a cross being covered up by Muslims from August. However, this one seems to have an element of truth to it:

CraigWelbourne 140213

It seems as though the incident was a) nothing to do with the people who hired the hall and b) resolved to the satisfaction of the injured party. All done and dusted by the looks of it. It’s also hardly comparable to the pig’s head incident which was clearly a premeditated attempt to intimidate the Muslim community, given the particular significance of the pig to Muslims and the context of ongoing protests in which Muslims claimed to have been abused and intimidated. There is no evidence of premeditation or intimidation in this church hall incident and you can bet the EDL would be shouting it from the rooftops if they’d found some.

This is just another bit of hypocrisy from the EDL, who always moan about the police force, filling their profiles with ‘1312’/’ACAB’ (All Coppers Are Bastards) posts when ‘their’ people are being arrested and repressed by the police. However, it seems they are quite happy to see arrests and punishment of people they don’t like.

It’s also very strange that they are complaining about the media giving coverage to the Ferrar case but not this rowdy party gone wrong. After all, the Ferrar case only got the amount of coverage it did because of the hysteria the EDL and friends had whipped up around the Thurnby Lodge scout hut and the nightly protests that they instigated. That’s why it was front page news rather than a small crime report buried on page 10. Their own exclusive scoop isn’t really much of a story unless you’re a paranoid anti-Muslim bigot who sees Islamic domination on every street corner.

Pig’s head man had links to EDL

Liam Ferrar has admitted religiously aggravated harassment of the Muslim community after he left a pig’s head at the door of a community centre on Christmas Day.  Much was made of his drunkenness in court, although the act seems to have been premeditated – he acquired the pig’s head during the summer and kept it in his freezer and the As Salaam group’s imam, Mohammed Lockhat had received “malicious communications in relation to pig’s heads and blood” before the head was left.

Ferrar is clearly none too bright. He played a police liaison role during the Thurnby Lodge protests so was well known by police. He carried out the act in full view of CCTV and was easy to identify by officers.

Ferrar was described as a member of the Forgotten Estates group, a group led by EDL activist Chris Hopewell. As if to further underline the central role the EDL have played in the protest movement, well known EDL drunkard James Elliott has also been arrested on charges relating to unauthorised protests against As Salaam this week. Members of the Muslim group have claimed that protestors have been intimidating and used racist language against them.

Unfortunately, Forgotten Estates have been rewarded for their threatening behaviour. Earlier this month, Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby agreed  to give Forgotten Estates the lease on the disused Scout hut that had been promised to As Salaam without paying rent for 2 and a half years. The idea that an EDL-run organisation will provide a centre that welcomes the whole community is laughable.

Pig head attack on Thurnby Lodge Muslims

A pig’s head was left at the doors to a community centre where Muslims pray on Boxing Day. The Thurnby Lodge Community Centre in Leicester is currently used by the As Salaam group whose controversial plans to takeover a disused Scout Hut in the area met with protests this summer. Muslims attending the regular prayer sessions have said they have been intimidated by the protestors, although the groups involved have claimed that their motives are not racist.

A Muslim who attends the Wednesday prayers at the centre said “Muslims are prohibited from eating pigs and whoever did this obviously knew that and were setting out to be offensive and make fun of something very serious to us.”

The latest news is that three people have been arrested in connection with the incident – a 40-year old woman and two men aged 37 and 46. It will be interesting to see whether there are any familiar faces.

We recently reported on how the main group protesting As Salaam, Forgotten Estates, was headed by a Leicester EDL activist, Chris Hopewell and that the EDL’s local organiser, Craig Elliot had been spotted at demonstrations. The EDL are not the only far right group who tried to exploit tensions between different communities over the affair – Nick Griffin attended protests along with the local BNP and hapless liars, Leicester Casuals United also stuck their oar in.

Infantile “hate crimes” like this are the kind of thing that the far right specialise in – just witness Nottingham EDL’s very similar attack on the site of a mosque in West Bridgford and EDL member Kevin Smith’s efforts in Dudley. However, it now seems as though new generations are apeing the efforts of these racist elders. Recently a 13-year old boy was arrested in connection with a string of racist attacks in Bingham, including putting a ham-wrapped burning cross on the doorstep of a Muslim family.

Academics studying fascism in the UK have suggested that the implosion of the organised political fronts for racism and anti-Muslim prejudice, the BNP and the EDL, is resulting in a rise of “lone-wolf” far right attacks. Without any official demos to go to, racists are acting autonomously to intimidate the people they hate. Indeed, Faith Matters have recorded 496 self-reported Islamophobic incidents in the past nine months of which 1 in 10 was against a mosque. It seems that, as their organisations collapse, racists are going back to taking matters into their own hands.

Forgotten Estates and the EDL

Remember Thurnby Lodge – the Leicester estate abandoned by the local council until protests irrupted over plans to convert an old scout hut into an Islamic community centre? Well protests are still ongoing although the numbers turning out have dwindled significantly. Unsurprisingly, the far right hoped to exploit the issue to further their own anti-Muslim agenda and the BNP, EDL, Casuals United and 212 all descended like hungry vultures. Since then, evidence has emerged that demonstrates just how pivotal the EDL are in the campaign, which has publicly distanced itself from far right politics.

Leicester UAF have published an article exposing the links between the EDL and the Forgotten Estates protest group which has set itself up as the voice of Thurnby Lodge estate. It turns out that the leader of Forgotten Estates is none other than Chris ‘EMI’ Hopewell, a Leicester EDL member who proudly identifies as an East Midlands Infidel. Hopewell was pictured in the Leicester Mercury handing a Forgotten Estates petition to Leicester Mayor, Peter Soulsby, last month. Leicester EDL organiser, Craig Elliott and notorious drunkard, James Elliott, have also been involved in the protests, which they have used to prop up their own flagging organisation.

Chris ‘EMI’ Hopewell – leader of Forgotten Estates

As Leicester UAF put it:

The group have been drawing in people who normally wouldn’t touch the EDL with a barge pole, by giving the impression that their protests are driven by community spirit.

There is no doubt that in the early days, working class resistance to the dictates of the city council certainly were an important motivator in the campaign, but now, thanks to the EDL’s role, Forgotten Estates is focusing on the anti-Muslim element.

Unlike the UAF, we reckon that most people aren’t foolish enough to be taken in by the EDL’s hijacking of the group and have abandoned the protests rather than being associated with the far right agenda of Forgotten Estates. A recent post on Leicester EDL’s page illustrates their disappointment at not being able to get more political capital out of this Trojan horse.

The EDL in Leicester have gone from being one of the bigger, more active divisions to struggling on the ropes, a situation that reflects the national picture of the far right group. The Thurnby Lodge protests seemed like an ideal opportunity for them to inject their anti-Muslim poison into a genuinely popular, grassroots movement, but it seems they’ve even managed to fuck that one up.

Thurnby Lodge protests rumble on

Evidently sensing a major embarrassment, Leicester City Council is backpedalling furiously on its decision to lease an abandoned building to a Muslim charity. The latest news is that mayor Peter Soulsby has said that the council is looking for an alternative site for the As-Salaam Trust’s proposed community centre.

Mohammed Lockhat of the Muslim group said that some worshippers had stopped attending prayers at the existing community centre due to a level of “intimidation” from protests, which have featured members of the BNP, including leader Nick Griffin, the EDL and Casuals United. However, it would be wrong to write off the protests as entirely islamophobic in nature as locals have clearly criticised the involvement of “outside groups” like the BNP and EDL in the press saying that their protests are about a lack of transparency in the council’s allocation of the building.

The Leicestershire BNP’s report on the protests of course talks up the involvement of the party and introduces the Islamic bogeyman wherever possible, decrying the appearance of a group of Muslim youths after one of the protests. “[W]hy were random muslim youths from outside the area getting involved with an issue which is none of their business?” they ask with massive hypocrisy. Muslims from the other side of town had far more business to be there, when their co-religionists were facing intimidation from the far right, than did Nick Griffin, who drove over from Wales in an attempt to stir up trouble. Far right dregs from across the area descended like a pack of wolves at the rumour of a clash between whites and Muslims, so it was only natural that there would be some kind of defensive response.

The BNP repeated the long scotched fake rumour about a Christian cross being covered to avoid offending Muslims, although they picked a different area to the EDL. They also insinuated that once As-Salaam had the scout hut soon the pub would be shut, invoking the magical “thin end of the wedge” argument with apparently no evidence whatsoever.

The BNP are not very good at using the internet. “What is this As Salaam sect?” they ask. “Nobody knows, nobody has heard of them, and nothing comes up on Google.” They clearly aren’t very good at searching because within a few seconds I’d found the group’s Facebook page which is linked to from a number of other sites. Mystery solved. “Where is a small, completely unknown sect getting so much money from?” I would imagine that, like most religious organisations, As-Salaam gets its money comes from donations from local worshippers. Why there should be any dark secret about this is never explained.

Finally the BNP have their obligatory moan about the unfairness of the mainstream media, in this case the Leicester Mercury which they say has not “report[ed] what the people of Thurnby Lodge are protesting about. They’ve been awfully quiet on the subject so far!” What they mean, of course, is that the Mercury’s reporters aren’t giving coverage of the BNP’s own reasons for protesting. The Mercury has given extensive coverage to the protests and has quoted protesters at length but because it doesn’t match with the BNP’s analysis it doesn’t count.

On the positive side, the Cautiously Pessimistic blog has picked up on our posts on the matter and has some interesting ideas about how anti-authoritarians in Leicester could organise on this issue:

[I]f we’re going to decisively win people away from the far-right, we need to demonstrate that, while our enemies on the right are ultimately just another set of politicians-in-waiting, we’re actually willing and able to do practical things to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Cautiously Pessimistic suggests that helping to set up a community run social centre in the area might be a good way to do this:

It’ll take a lot of work, and at the end of the day you might not have anything much more interesting or radical than a boxing club to show for it. But it’s better than lining up on one side or another of a racial divide, or just chasing round after big one-day strikes, protests in London and international summits while the far-right recruits on our doorsteps.

Far right not welcome in Thurnby Lodge

The BNP have been roundly criticised by locals involved in protests in Thurnby Lodge. Maxine Williams, manager of the Stirrup Cup pub, said outside groups such as the BNP and Nick Griffin were not welcome. In an extensive comment on the ThisIsLeiecstershire site, FORGOTTENEST said “It has absolutely nothing to do with Muslims!” and that

Neither EDL or BNP were invited to attend any of the peaceful protests staged by the local residents. They turned up of their own accord with their own agenda. This is not the agenda of the local community.

Another poster commented that “I would be the last person to vote the bnp in to power, our country is in enough trouble as it is thank you.”

Meanwhile, in a crass attempt to get more political mileage out of the situation, the EDL have been spreading a very obviously false story about a church cross in the area having to be covered up so that Muslims were not offended. Although they claimed to have “solid eye witness reports” they called out for anyone with “real legitimate news” to let them know. Well here goes: Canon David Monteith, Acting Archdeacon of Leicester, said: “There is no truth at all in the malicious rumour that the church was asked to cover the cross. The information is totally unfounded.”

Looks like another fascist fail.

Griffin parachutes into Thurnby Lodge

The protests against a Muslim community centre on the Thurnby Lodge estate in Leicester have now attracted the attentions of the leader of the BNP. Nick Griffin parachuted in last night to quickly give a speech which he reckoned was “very well received”. He also claimed that 250 people had turned out to the most recently nightly protest against the As Salaam charity, which wants to convert a disused Scout hut into a community centre.

Porcine blockhead Nick Griffin swans in to hijack the protest

As we described yesterday, the protests are becoming a magnet for far right parasites, desperate to be involved in a popular campaign for a change. Also in attendance were members of Leicester EDL, Casuals United, and islamophobic group 212 Poison. Dave Hightower of the 212 has threatened to get rid of the hut on Facebook, posting “Would they use it if it wasnt there anymore?”.

The casuals report is well worth a read:

You have got to ask yourselfes here why the Leicester EDL have gone down to 12 people. Well chanting “f*cking scum” in the middle of women and kids trying to save their estate aint helping no one. Your a f*cking disgrace and thats why the EDL on the whole have diminished in numbers. You lot might turn up for a piss-up but if it kicked off you would get f*cking slaughtered. FACT !

Although the infighting within the local fascist groups is heartening to see, anti-fascists need to make sure that far right groups do not get a boost as a result of these protests. Residents of Thurnby Lodge have a right to shared community resources and a say in how their community is run rather than being dictated to by Leicester City Council. Any attempts by the far right to turn this into a racial or religious matter need to be firmly resisted. We need to get an anti-fascist presence in the estate, to talk to people about what the fascists are up to and show that we genuinely support the right to community self-organisation but not the division of communities along cultural and religious lines.

BNP stirs up resentment over Leicester Muslim centre

When community tensions are high, the far right are never far away, rushing in to try and exploit them for their own political purposes. Hence when an Islamic group recently tried to set up a community centre in the Thurnby Lodge area of Leicester and some residents from the local estate objected, the BNP and other far right groups rushed to get involved in stirring up the resentment.

The Leicester Mercury reports that police have been stationed in the area over the past week after demonstrations of as many as 150 people against the As-Salaam Trust’s plans to convert a disused Scout hut into a community centre for local Muslims.

Some demonstrators say they want the Scout hut turned into a resource for the whole community and others have voiced support for a local boxing club to take on the lease instead. However, Leicester City Council has said that when the Scouts gave up their lease of the hut last year, 100 community groups looking for premises were contacted of which As-Salaam was the only one that could meet the criteria agreed with the Scout Association.

The demonstrations, which Leicestershire BNP involved themselves in, have focused on the Muslim group’s meetings at the existing community centre. The BNP said that “When the Muslims finally left the Centre they were met with jeers and told that they were not welcome.” Of course, the BNP have written this up in a way that supports their own agenda of promoting a clash between white and other communities. However, it would be very worrying if the protests are taking on a communal and islamophobic nature.

It seems that the tragedy here is that, thanks to the capitalist system of landlordism and rent extraction combined with the patronage politics of local authorities, suitable venues for community activities are unavailable to the working class people in the area. Only groups with the funds and organisation to jump through the council’s hoops end up getting a look in. We need communities where everyone can share resources and find a place, not ones where the poor are locked out and some ethnic and religious minorities are blamed for the scarcity that is an inevitable result of capitalist economics.

“Local BNP members offered their support and advice to the organisers,” according to the BNP’s blog, “but agreed to keep the group non-political.” It sounds like their red, white and blue rosettes aren’t as popular as they’d like them to be.