Tell MAMA UK
|Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks)|
|Mission statement||"to ensure that anti-Muslim incidents and attacks in the UK are mapped, measured and recorded, and support provided for victims."|
|Type of project||Anti-Muslim hate monitor|
|Established||21 February 2012|
Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) is a national project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom. It is modelled on the Jewish Community Security Trust (CST) and like the CST it also provides support for victims, working closely with organisations such as Victim Support.
Tell MAMA was launched on 21 February 2012 by Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government and is co-ordinated by the interfaith organisation Faith Matters. Both groups were founded by social entrepreneur Fiyaz Mughal OBE, a former adviser to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, on Interfaith and Preventing Radicalisation and Extremism. The organisation's statistics have been subject of debate in,  but have been referenced by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP when speaking at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on the 23rd of March 2015.
The project was set up with UK Government backing. In November 2012 Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a further £214,000 annual funding for Tell MAMA up to October 2013. TELL MAMA was funded for an initial period of 2 years and was funded on the basis of being self-sustaining after two years. TELL MAMA covers a range of issues and cases and also works with mosques across the country. Journalist Andrew Gilligan wrote about the organisation's data collection in 2013 though the allegations have been disputed by TELL MAMA. The group's funding was not renewedafter it reported a rise in Islamophobia after the murder of Lee Rigby, but did not report that the activity was online.
TELL MAMA has had significant press coverage on its work to monitor anti-Muslim hate after the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in 2015. It also recently reported on the rise of school based anti-Muslim hate incidents that took place after the Paris murders. TELL MAMA also reported continuing anti-Muslim hate incidents on both Facebook and Twitter. TELL MAMA has also worked on some high profile cases involving alleged anti-Muslim discrimination, for example at the Savoy Hotel, where the female worker in question who alleged the anti-Muslim discrimination was represented by TELL MAMA.
- 1 Findings
- 2 Reception from British Muslims
- 3 Controversies
- 4 Patrons
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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By end of November 2013, the organisation had recorded 1,432 cases of abuse since its founding in February 2012. On 30 January 2014 the organisation released a graphic highlighting details of mosque attacks it had recorded between January 2012 to August 2013, including three bombings which took place in June and July 2013 (connected to a self-confessed white supremacist, Pavlo Lapshyn).
632 incidents were recorded in its first year of operation. One in three attackers reported to the project had links to far-right organisations. Of physical incidents reported in its first year, Tell MAMA boss Fiyaz Mughal said on BBC Sunday Morning Live that 70% were against hijab or niqab-wearing women and the majority of attackers were white males, aged 20–50. In June 2013 the findings were analysed and verified by a team of academics at Teesside University, revealing that English Defence League (EDL) figures were linked to one-third of online incidents; the data said that almost two out of every three incidents were not reported to police.
Mughal, interviewed on Press TV in 2012, and writing for Hope not Hate, claimed that such incidents were becoming more violent and aggressive. Mughal also called on the Commonwealth of Nations to do more to combat Islamophobia.
Following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by two Muslim extremists, Tell MAMA recorded 83 incidents in 24 hours, and 212 over the week. During the same period, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) recorded a 'spike' of 136 anti-Muslim incidents which were directly reported to its True Vision hate crime reporting service.
As of October 2013, Tell MAMA had recorded 35 attacks against mosques since the Woolwich incident. Most cases involved graffiti, though others included arson, offensive DVDs, petrol bombs, smoke bombs, a suspected nail bomb, use of a pig's head, and threats and abuse of worshippers.
TELL MAMA also launched its 2014 report which highlighted the following key points:
◾548 verified incidents (of 729) reported to Tell MAMA (a number that broadly reflects the 2012/2013 report when 584 incidents were recorded). ◾A decrease from the previous report but that reflects the documented spike of incidents following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in 2013/2014. ◾A majority of incidents took place online (402 out of 548 or roughly two-thirds). ◾In the online sphere, a vast proportion of incidents were abusive in nature and nearly a fifth involved threats. ◾The ‘memeification’ of anti-Muslim hate online was traceable with a high number of ‘anti-Muslim literature’ incidents. ◾Nearly a fifth of service users reported repeated offline incidents of anti-Muslim hate. ◾Again, Muslim women (48 incidents) suffered more offline incidents than men (40 incidents) in the dataset. ◾44 offline cases noted that the individual, at the time of the incident, wearing traditional Islamic clothing during and the perpetrators’ were overwhelmingly white male. ◾7 offline cases involved ‘extreme violence’, 21 constituted assault and 29 involved threats. ◾Damage to Islamic institutions and personal properties totalled 15 incidents.
TELL MAMA has also maintained an updated map of all mosque attacks in England, Wales and Scotland since June 2013, post the murder of Lee Rigby that took place in Woolwich. Within 3 months of the murder of drummer Rigby, 34 mosques were attacked and incidents ranged from graffiti and broken windows, though to threats against worshippers and a bombing campaign by Pavlo Lapshyn which intersected at the time of the murder and the attacks that took place. That campaign led to the death of pensioner and grandfather Mohammed Saleem.
Reception from British Muslims
Inayat Bunglawala, founder and chair of Muslims4UK and a former media secretary at the Muslim Council of Britain, questioned Tell MAMA's links to the CST, which he linked to Zionism and neoconservatism. Former Hizb ut-Tahrir member, and now Senior Fellow at ICSR, King's College London, Shiraz Maher wrote in The Jewish Chronicle that:
- "Tell Mama is new and, though gauche in many respects, it is badly needed. It was established by Fiyaz Mughal, who led the "Muslims Against antisemitism" campaign. Unlike most Muslim groups, Tell Mama also records intra-Muslim sectarian attacks. More importantly, it replaces the Muslim Safety Forum, an extremist group dominated by Islamists who support Hamas."
Andrew Gilligan's pieces in The Sunday Telegraph
Andrew Gilligan in The Sunday Telegraph (1 June and 9 June 2013) wrote that 57% of incidents recorded by Tell MAMA in the week after the Woolwich murder were online incidents. Other incidents – with the exception of mosque attacks in Grimsby and Essex – were "relatively minor, such as window-breaking or graffiti". Seventeen incidents involved assault on a person, although 11 of those were attempts to remove Islamic dress and none required medical treatment. According to Gilligan, Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police said that her force, which is one of the few forces which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, had seen fewer anti-Muslim incidents than after the 7 July bombings in 2005.
Gilligan wrote that the group's government funding was axed following concerns about its methods raised by Don Foster, the Minister for Communities. Gilligan's report said that the decision was made before the Woolwich attack and was based on perceived discrepancies between the group’s statistics and ACPO and police records. Gilligan said "hate crime in mainly Muslim areas has fallen in the past 10 years". Gilligan also mentioned two cases in mid-May, before the Woolwich incident, where Tell MAMA had "been using its budget to threaten members of the public with libel actions for criticising it on Twitter": one was against a Jewish activist who criticised the group in Twitter postings. Atma Singh, Former race advisor to the then Labour Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who had been sacked from his position for creating a commercial company offering consultancy services for profit in March 2005 while still an employee of the Greater London Authority, was also threatened with action by Tell MAMA after he tweeted that the organisation "gives a platform to Islamists".
Tell MAMA response
Tell MAMA responded to Gilligan's criticism by stating that online attacks were worth recording and had links to real-world incidents and wider communal tensions. It disputed the rest of Gilligan's main accusations. On funding, it said that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed in November 2012 that the project's funding of £214,000 was for one year only.
Government advisor and academic expert on Islamophobia, Dr Chris Allen, suggested that there was likely to be significant under-reporting of anti-Muslim incidents, based on a large 2009 EU-wide survey. Expert on far-right politics, Dr Matthew Feldman of Teesside University, contended that the nature of the data collected by hate-monitoring projects naturally differs to that collected by police, due to the nature of self-reporting.
A BBC News report said that the data is somewhat "patchy" but noted a number of "very serious" incidents which took place in the summer of 2013, including a number of attempts to set fire to Islamic schools and mosques. It also noted that Tell MAMA "has produced an online map of alleged attacks".
Press Complaints Commission finding
Tell MAMA complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about Gilligan's report in The Daily Telegraph but the PCC found that there were no breaches of the Editor's Code in relation to accuracy.
Other media articles
- "...you frequently find that Muslim groups like Tell Mama get taxpayers' money (though, in its case, this is now coming to an end)...And you notice that many bigwigs in Muslim groups are decorated with public honours. Fiyaz Mughal, for example, who runs Tell Mama, has an OBE. Obviously it would be half-laughable, half-disgusting if activists of the EDL were honoured in this way: yet they are, in fact, less extreme than some of those Muslims who are."
Writing in the New Statesman magazine, academic Matthew Goodwin, of Nottingham University, an expert on British far-right politics, criticised Charles Moore and Andrew Gilligan, who he said were "proved wrong" in trying to "dismiss a documented rise in attacks against Muslims following the [Woolwich] attack."
Sadiq Khan and Mohammed Amin response
Criticising the approaches of Gilligan and Moore, senior Labour frontbench MP Sadiq Khan, said:
- "For decades, the British Jewish community has had to contend with the belittling of anti-Semitic attacks, whether they be on headstones in cemeteries or to Synagogues or schools. While we cannot be complacent, there is, rightly, a zero tolerance to anti-Semitism whether it be oral, viral or physical. Would we be comfortable with a respected journalist writing about the Community Security Trust the way Tell Mama has been written about? Or aspersions being cast on a politician due to their Jewish faith? Would we accept the Jewish community being talked about the way the Muslim community are? The piece would be roundly criticised, and rightly so."
- "Given that Tell MAMA has adopted the methodology of the CST; and that the pattern of incidents that it is reporting is similar to the patterns reported by the CST – with incidents ranging from verbal abuse, internet abuse, to relatively rare cases of extreme violence – will these journalists be attacking the CST’s next report the same way? Because, as far as I can see, there is little difference between the evils of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, or the way in which both bodies which monitor such hatred function."
A Liberty GB radio host, Tim Burton, was arrested, charged and prosecuted for comments he tweeted about Mughal in the wake of the Islamophobia reporting controversy. Tim Burton was acquitted on 8 April 2014 in what became known as the "Birmingham Taqiyya Trial".
Patrons of the Tell MAMA project include: Jonathan Bloch, gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Mohammed Amin, Lord Sheikh, Sir Trevor Chinn, Amin Mawji, Sally Becker, Kristiane Backer, the Reverend Mark Oakley, and Imaan (an LGBT Muslim support group).
In April 2014, former head of the Community Security Trust, Richard Benson, was announced as the new Chair of Tell MAMA. More recently, former Government Minister Shahid Malik was appointed as co-Chair to Richard Benson on the TELL MAMA project.
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