We have a collective responsibility to recognise this equality of hate
Last week a Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets, Mohammed Pappu, was forced to resign from the local Labour Party after admitting that he was responsible for a series of antisemitic remarks which appeared on his Facebook page. Although this is unacceptable behaviour by anyone using social media, and especially from an elected representative (he remains an independent councillor), the row over the remarks was exacerbated by the fact that, as a youth worker in the local area, Pappu was using his Facebook account as an information point for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and more specifically, for updates on events organised by the charity Soul, of which he is a trustee and former chairman.
Sadly, this instance is not unique. New figures published today by the Crime Survey for England and Wales show that religious hate crime rose by 40 per cent between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Could this partly be attributed to the conduct of those in positions of authority, who influence our young people, when just a few words can trigger a powerful reaction?
Pappu’s conduct demonstrates exactly why education in religious tolerance should be a fundamental requirement for everyone in a position of trust working with young adults. It is the only way to reduce racial bias and improve acceptance of all faiths, regardless of one’s own personal religious views.
Earlier this year, Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said: “We Muslims need to talk about Muslim antisemitism.” In demonstrating how crucial it is to educate our young people, he went on to say that in the “mind of the perpetrators of such hate, the world is bipolar, with Muslims and Jews at opposite ends; and it is people like this who are winning the hearts and minds of many young, disaffected people in the UK”.