Thursday, June 20, 2019
News Code : 354272 | Publish Date :2018/12/11 - 17:30 | Category: FORUM

Muslim community 'betrayed' by police over EDL's alleged racist chanting
THE city’s Muslim community feels “betrayed” after police ruled EDL protestors did not commit a crime after allegedly chanting racist language against Islam during a city rally.

Hawzah News Agency - West Mercia Police carried out two investigations into reports of the inflammatory chants made during the far-right group’s demonstration in Worcester on September 1, including reviewing video footage on social media.

However, having also consulted with the Metropolitan Police Operation Public Command Unit and senior lawyers from West Midlands CPS, the force has deemed “no criminal offences under the Public Order Act had taken place”.

Campaigner Usnan Ghazi said he and others in the city’s Muslim community want Chief Superintendent Mark Travis to step down after allegedly promising arrests would be made.

Mr Ghazi, 36, said Supt Travis made the assurances during a meeting following the English Defence League’s initial protest against a new mosque in the city on July 21. “We were assured by Mark Travis they would be arrested if they chanted slogans openly against Muslims, however, now we are told somewhat different,” he said.

“I understand if the law prohibits them from arresting those involved but then my argument is why give us false hopes?

He continued: “Shame on you, Travis,” he added.

South Worcestershire’s superintendent Damian Pettit said the investigation involved reviewing body worn footage, CCTV and online videos, including on social media and YouTube.

“As a result of this, it was deemed that no criminal offences under the Public Order Act had taken place.

“We attend meetings regularly with various groups in the community and fed the results back to them.

“We revisited the original decision following feedback from some of the communities in Worcestershire, with the benefit of some further video footage being given to police by people who were present,” he continued.

The superintendent went on to say that Worcester is “not a place of regular protest and I absolutely understand how some of the protestors’ behaviour may be offensive to our community”.

“In no way do I diminish the impact of the protests but upon a second review it was concluded that no further charges were forthcoming,” he added.

Mr Ghazi, one of numerous members of a Muslim youth group to meet with Ch Supt Travis in July, said, in light of the decision: “We have full confidence in the law, but not in those imparting it.”

He said the EDL marchers who allegedly chanted the inflammatory slogans “offended every single Muslim with their behaviour”.

“We live peacefully, we protested peacefully [on September 1]. But once you are chanting like that, it crosses a boundary. It’s highly offensive.”

He said if he, or any other members of the Muslim community had chanted slogans inciting racism against another group in a public place, “we would be arrested and rightfully so. But why is it different in this case?”

Mr Ghazi claimed that he witnessed a fellow Muslim being issued with a dispersal order in Wyld’s Lane on the morning of September 1, preventing him from entering the city centre.

The same man was then arrested soon after and held in Hereford for the day, he claimed – likening it to the treatment of ‘undesirables’ in Nazi Germany.

Supt Pettit went on to say: “I've taken the fact that our community felt able to challenge police and partners on the policing and arrangements for the protests as a sign we have the trust, ability and forums to exchange views openly and frankly.

“We won't always agree on all issues but one thing that doesn't differ is our want and wish to remain a close community and one that moves on to develop an even closer working.

He continued: “It is difficult to balance at large protests the rights to freedom of speech under the Human Rights Act and offences under the Public Order Act.

“The feedback we have had, both positive and negative, is really valuable for informing any future planning and making our community feel reassured and safe.

“We did receive a lot of positive feedback on the day from members of the public who felt they were kept safe whilst being able to express their right to protest, and those going about their normal business in the city.”

The superintendent added that the constabulary’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams are continuing to develop wider opportunities to engage and listen to our community “over and above what already exists”.

“We want to continue to work with the community and our partners to make Worcester a safe place to live, work and socialise.”

He said: “We issued a dispersal order throughout Worcester city centre on the September 1, one member of the public was arrested and taken to Hereford custody.

"The fixed penalty notice was reviewed and subsequently rescinded and the individual that was the subject to the notice has been fully updated.”

On September 1, around 150 supporters of the EDL, who said they were marching in opposition to plans for a new mosque on Stanley Road, were opposed by an estimated 500 counter-protesters.

Dozens of police officers from across the Midlands were utilised, with the two groups of protesters only allowed within 150 metres of each other.

Speaking at the time, Ch Supt Travis said the three arrests made were “low level issues and did not involve violence”.

 

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