‘Hate crimes against sparked by leaflets’

HATE CRIMES against Shia communities in Yorkshire might have been sparked by offensive leaflets and text messages circulated around the region, a national Islamic organisation has said.

Embargoed to 0001 Monday December 19 File photo dated 1/7/2009 of Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, who said today that the riots that spread across English cities this summer might have been avoided if police had 'appreciated the magnitude of the task'. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday December 19, 2011. Vaz called for a 'rapid improvement in police training to deal with public disorder', saying that for those who lost their homes and businesses 'the state effectively ceased to exist'. See PA story POLITICS Riots. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

Tell Mama UK published an article on its website yesterday suggesting the possible roots of anti-Shia bigotry, after a mosque in Bradford was vandalised.

The advocacy group, which records and monitors cases of Islamaphobia, said a leaflet was distributed in schools and businesses in West Yorkshire last year which some people felt “demonised” Shia religion.

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The article pictured a photo of the leaflet which was titled ‘Shiaism is a religion outside Islam.’

On Monday the Hussania Islamic Centre in Bradford was defaced with the words ‘Shia Kafir’ scrawled on the wall. The phrase suggests Shias are not true believers in Islam. Fiyaz Mughal OBE, director of Tell Mama, said: “The anti-Shia bigotry that we reported on over the weekend looks to be deeper than some think.

“The fact that leaflets were circulated, albeit some time ago, and then we have anti-Shia bigotry on a Shia institution in Bradford, means that the hate rhetoric has some resonance.

“We have been informed my members of the public this weekend that such anti-Shia activity is not a one-off and that text and Whatsapp messages have previously been sent in relation to the Syria crisis, suggesting that members of the Sunni Muslim community boycott Shia shops. This activity has been taking place in the Yorkshire region and it is unacceptable. British Muslims who are members of the Shia community have nothing to do with Syria and should not be targeted like this.”

Earlier, Keith Vaz, Commons Home Affairs Committee chairman, said The UK must “up its game” on stopping people travelling to join Islamic State in Syria.