'Anti-Islamic' posters in Essex showing crusader chasing woman in burqa with AK-47 investigated by police

Officers reverse course and are now treating stickers' presence as possible hate crime

Jon Sharman,Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 21 May 2019 13:07 BST
Far-right stickers appeared in an Essex town
Far-right stickers appeared in an Essex town (Newsquest/SWNS.com)

Posters put up in an Essex town bearing the phrase “Islamists not welcome” are being treated as a hate crime, police have said.

Put up in several Rayleigh streets, they also warned targets to “stay back or we will kick you back”.

They displayed a symbol used by the pan-European white nationalist group Generation Identity alongside silhouette images of a mounted crusader chasing a pair of armed figures – one of whom is wearing a burqa.

Initially officers did not consider their presence a possible hate crime, according to the Southend Standard newspaper which first reported on the stickers.

But after being contacted by The Independent, an Essex Police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of stickers placed in various locations around Rayleigh displaying messages including ‘Islamists not welcome’. We are keen to speak to those responsible for them to discuss their intent. We are treating this as a hate incident.”

Ahmad Khwaja, chairman of the Southend Ethnic Minority Forum, told the Standard: “It is both worrying and disappointing that anti-Islamic posters have been appearing. This Islamophobia is fuelled by ignorance and it is likely that the people posting them have had little or no contact with any Muslim people in their own lives.

“Sadly anti-Muslim bias is prevalent and has become normalised in the media and politics today. It is therefore yet to be taken as seriously as other hate crimes such as those of antisemitism or homophobia.”

Generation Identity calls itself a “patriotic youth movement” that believes in “homeland, freedom and tradition”.

It promotes the white genocide conspiracy theory that inspired the Christchurch mosque attacker and calls for a “reconquista” of Europe.

The phrase invokes the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, following centuries of rule by the Moors.

In their quest to “stop the Islamisation of Europe” and “reverse the Great Replacement”, activists crowdfunded have a boat to stop refugee rescues in the Mediterranean and patrolled European borders.

The stickers found in Rayleigh are sold through a merchandise company linked to the group which was managed by Tore Rasmussen, a Norwegian former neo-Nazi who was investigated over the stabbing of an African migrant in the Norwegian city of Stavanger in 2001.

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He is one of three Generation Identity activists to have been blocked from entering the UK because their presence was ruled “not conducive to the public good”, but has since left the group.

The others are Austrian Generation Identity leader Martin Sellner and his American fiancée, the far-right blogger Brittany Pettibone.

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