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Our intention is to inform people of racist, homophobic, religious extreme hate speech perpetrators across social networking internet sites. And we also aim to be a focal point for people to access information and resources to report such perpetrators to appropriate web sites, governmental departments and law enforcement agencies around the world.

We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Muslim graves toppled in Scunthorpe cemetery attack (UK)

MUSLIM leaders have expressed their outrage and sadness after 11 graves in a North Lincolnshire cemetery were vandalised.

The attack was the second in 21 months on Muslim graves in the Brumby Cemetery in Scunthorpe's Cemetery Road.

The Deputy Mayor of North Lincolnshire, Councillor Mashook Ali, said: "We prayed this would never happen again – but it has."

Mr Ali said he felt the graves had been deliberately targeted as there are three sections of the cemetery designated for Muslims.

"We want those responsible brought to justice," he said. "The latest attacks have shocked the local Muslim community to the core. We shall be pressing for extra security measures on the site."

Mr Ali said the community rented areas of the Brumby Cemetery as burial ground under a 99-year-old lease agreement with North Lincolnshire Council and more than 100 Muslims were buried there.

In August 2008, police were called in after 24 headstones, some of them on children's graves, were attacked in two separate areas of the cemetery. No arrests were ever made.

Roj Rahman, 39, of Cliff Gardens, Scunthorpe, said: "We feel let down by the local authority.

"After the 2008 attack we were promised better lighting and pruning of trees to provide higher visibility in that section of the graveyard."

Fellow Scunthorpe Muslim, Saleem Ali, 30, said he called police after discovering the 11 gravestones had been uprooted and toppled over.

Mr Ali said: "It was a disgusting act of vandalism and heart-breaking for the families concerned."

Haq Kataria, 48, of Doncaster Road, Scunthorpe, said: "We feel sure this latest attack was racially motivated. But the dead of any religious denomination need to be respected."

Police have started door-to-door enquiries in the Cemetery Road area following the attack.

North Lincolnshire police's community cohesion officer, Amanda Atkin, said: "I would urge anyone with information to come forward.

"This is pure mindless vandalism and not only do the families have to pay for any damage caused but there is the added upset of their loved ones' graves being disturbed.

"Neighbourhood policing teams are currently working with members of the local Muslim community and will do everything in their power to identify the offenders."

North Lincolnshire Council, which is responsible for the cemetery, has promised to further review security arrangements on the site with the help of the newly formed Friends of Brumby Cemetery community group.

A spokesman said: "Irrespective of race or religion, the council condemns any attack on burial places. It is extremely upsetting for relatives who have lost loved ones and the council wants to stop it happening again.

"A meeting was held shortly after the attack in August 2008 between members of the Muslim Community, the council, the police and the Multi Faith Partnership.

"At that meeting it was brought to our attention that a tree was obscuring some of the lighting in the cemetery.

"This tree was cut back a short time later and we will now look at it again.

"We also improved security by locking the cemetery gates other than those by the caretaker's cottage."

Anyone with information about the incident, between 9am and 2.24pm on Saturday, should contact Humberside Police on 0845 60 60 222 quoting BG/1759387/2010.

This is Scunthorpe

Persecuted by the Nazis, former Berliners visit their hometown (Germany)

A programme offering people persecuted by the Nazis a chance to visit their former hometown Berlin is slowly winding down. Julia Lipkins speaks with some of the last survivors.

The last time Margot Labi was in Berlin, the Nazis were rounding up Jews, defacing their shops and burning synagogues.

Labi was three years old on November 9th, 1938, a date now remembered as the Kristallnacht pogrom, when her family fled to the Dominican Republic. After narrowly avoiding the Holocaust, she was left with little interest to return to the city of her birth.

“I never wanted to come to Germany, never,” the 75-year-old Labi recently told The Local.

But after much deliberation and encouragement from her three sons in Florida, Labi and her husband Vittorio – a concentration camp survivor with his own reservations about visiting Germany – decided to take part in a programme offering former Berliners persecuted by the Nazis a chance to become reacquainted with the German capital.
The publicly funded initiative gives participants a one-week, expenses-paid tour of their old hometown. The majority of the ex-Berliners are Jewish, but the offer extends to anyone terrorised during the Third Reich.

After 41 years and more than 30,000 visitors (some 15,000 former Berliners and another 15,000 family members), the programme is drawing to a close as the final generation of Holocaust survivors slowly passes away.
During its penultimate tour in May, Labi explored her old hometown for the first time in over seven decades. She strolled along Jablonskistrasse, where her childhood apartment once stood and visited the Rykestrasse synagogue, where her family had worshipped.

“For me, I thought I'd come to Germany and it would be like going to Italy or Spain, you know, it wouldn’t have any impact,” said Labi, who speaks English with a distinct Spanish accent. “But it wasn’t like this. It had a lot of impact, I guess in my heart.”

Her husband, who was born in Libya and deported to Germany at the age of 10, enthusiastically added: “It was a surprise for me because I hated Germany, I hated Berlin….But this week here, changed my mind, I’m not kidding you. Really changed my mind. Beautiful country.”

Not making amends
Tucked away in the depths of Berlin’s city hall, stands an ageing stack of binders, each spine baring the handwritten label “Emigrierte Mitbürger,” or emigrated citizens.

Rüdiger Nemitz, a wiry Berliner in his early sixties, has been guardian of the binders since city parliament created “The Invitation Programme for Former Persecuted Citizens of Berlin” in 1969.

“It’s not trying to make amends, you can’t make it good again,” Nemitz told The Local. “It’s just to take their hand, and to show the Berlin, Germany of today is totally different from that what they have in their mind, when they emigrated.”

Although Berlin has evolved drastically since Reunification, the programme’s itinerary has remained consistent over the last 21 years: the seven-day journey includes a sightseeing tour via bus, a welcome reception by the mayor, a visit to the Jewish cemetery in the Weissensee district, a tour of the Reichstag, a cultural event such as “Carmen” this year and free time for the participants explore the city on their own.

Initially, the city government advertised the programme in Aufbau, a German-language newspaper, which was printed in New York for the Jewish diaspora.

“In the past we had thousands and thousands of applications and were not able to manage it,” said Nemitz, who began working with the programme as a student volunteer in 1969 and was promoted to its director in 1990.
Eventually knowledge of the sponsored visits spread by word of mouth and applications poured in from the United States, Israel, South Africa and Australia.

“We had waiting lists from the very first day,” said Nemitz.

At the height of the programme, the city allocated DM3.5 million annually (€1.7 million) to accommodate upwards of 240 participants and support an eleven-member staff.

This year, Nemitz has a budget of €560,000 for less than 120 visitors and his staff has dwindled to one part-time employee.
After the last group arrives in June 2010, “the waiting list will be history,” Nemitz remarked.

An emotional hurdle
On the final day of the tour in May, Rolf Schütte, a former career diplomat in the German Foreign Service and current Chief of Protocol for the state of Berlin, joined the group of 57 participants for a farewell soirée.

Schütte, who wrote the report, “German-Jewish Relations, Today and Tomorrow,” published by the American-Jewish Committee in 2005, said in a speech, “We know it’s not an easy step because this is of course the country of your ancestors, but it’s also the country that tried to kill your ancestors, and this emotional hurdle, this burden, is very large and that’s why we very much appreciate you accepting this invitation.”
Amidst the emotional trials of returning to Germany, many participants were also forced to re-examine their cultural and national identities.

"I feel now, I can recognise that in some ways I am German,” Karin Arlin told The Local.

Arlin’s father, who worked as chief engineer for Lufthansa, moved the family to the Netherlands in 1934 and ultimately to America in 1941.

“I certainly come from German Jews, and it enrages me when they put us into a separate category that we’re not really part of the Volk,” said Arlin, who continued to speak German with her parents after the family settled in the United States.

As with Arlin and Labi, most of the participants these days were children during the Nazi era and as a result, have little recollection of their lives in Berlin.

Ruth Cyzner was eight years old, when she left Berlin in 1939 on the Kindertransport refugee effort that brought Jewish children to Britain. Although Cyzner can recognise several words in German and street names in Berlin, she has but a few memories of her father, who died in Auschwitz, along with her mother.

Cyzner spent the week in pursuit of records, facts, anecdotes – any information – about her father.

After tangling with German bureaucracy, Cyzner was able to obtain original, handwritten documents concerning her father’s finances and service in the Austrian Army.

“That was very moving to see his writing on that piece of paper,” said Cyzner. “Then I was furious. The fact that they keep all these records and they kill the people, but they’ve still got the records and the records will always be there. So there was a whole mix of feelings about that.”

The next generation
Cyzner’s daughter Eve Wolfsohn accompanied her on the trip to the German capital and Nemitz said he has received thousands of requests from the children of former Berliners wanting to participate in the programme.

“It’s incredibly emotional because I feel like it’s the closest I’ll ever be to my grandparents,” said Wolfsohn, who would like to see the programme extended to children of survivors.

But Nemitz said due to Berlin’s serious budgetary woes, an extension of the program to future generations is unlikely.

“It’s really a monetary problem,” he said. “It’s not a problem of willingness
The Local Germany

Religious leaders denounce Arizona immigration law (USA)

Religious leaders in the US and Latin America have denounced Arizona's controversial new immigration law.

The law requires police to question people about their immigration status, if officers suspect the person is in the US illegally, and if they have stopped them for a legitimate reason.

Archbishop Rafael Romo Munoz, of Tijuana, Mexico, said it was "inhuman".
The criticism came as President Barack Obama, who says the law is misguided, met Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Mr Obama has made immigration reform a priority, amid pressure from US border states for action to help curb illegal immigration and drug violence.

Last month, he said he would seek more funding and deploy up to 1,200 extra troops to help secure the US-Mexico border.

Civil rights groups have said Arizona's new law paves the way for widespread discrimination against Hispanics.
The legislation, which is set to take effect on 29 July, will also make it a crime to be in Arizona without immigration papers.

Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, head of the US bishops' committee on migration, warned it could lead to racial profiling and create divisions between the police and immigrant communities.

Archbishop Munoz said the measure would "make it possible to detain someone based on their external appearance".
He added: "This law in Arizona is truly anti-humanitarian. It's inhuman."

During a half-hour meeting at the White House, Ms Brewer called for the completion of a fence between Arizona and Mexico and told Mr Obama that Americans "want our border secured".

Mr Obama emphasised his view that the law was discriminatory and that Arizona's move - and similar efforts by more than 20 other states - would interfere with the federal government's task of enforcing immigration policy.
He urged Ms Brewer to "be his partner" in overhauling the country's troubled immigration system.

In a press conference following the meeting, Ms Brewer said that although the two had had a "very cordial conversation", there were clearly issues on which they did not agree.

"We agreed to try to work together in order to find some solution" to issues like immigration and security, the govenor said.

She added: "We know we are not going to agree on certain issues until other issues are worked out."

Ms Brewer said the president had told her most of the 1,200 extra National Guard troops being sent to the US-Mexico border would be going to her state.

About 200 protesters waved signs and chanted "Jan Brewer, shame on you!" in front of the White House as the pair met.

Ms Brewer said in April that the new law would strengthen border controls in Arizona, which borders Mexico.

The governor also claimed that she was forced to act because the federal government had failed to tackle illegal immigration.

Mr Obama has called the new measure by Ms Brewer a "misdirected expression of frustration" at the federal government's inability to act.

BBC News

Defence League’s protests are “crude, dangerous and unhelpful” says Wales religious leaders

Two senior faith leaders in Wales are urging people not to support a planned demonstration by the English/ Welsh Defence League in Cardiff this weekend (June 5).

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, and the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Saleem Kidwai, say the League’s protests are “crude, dangerous and unhelpful” as they undermine efforts to promote tolerance and diversity in Wales.

They are calling on people to attend the Peace Vigil organised by the Interfaith Council for Wales at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, on Friday evening (June 4), instead, which aims to celebrate the city’s cultural diversity and to reject any attempts to harm community relations.

The League has already held protests in Newport, Swansea and Wrexham.

In a joint statement, Dr Morgan and Mr Kidwai said:

“As leaders in the Christian and Muslim Communities in Wales, we find the Defence League’s approach to the challenge of living in a diverse society to be crude dangerous and unhelpful. Crude because it does not meet real human contact and exchanges; dangerous because it ignores the real issues in favour of simplistic stereotypes and rumours which exploit people’s ignorance and fears; unhelpful because it seeks to reverse all that is good about the best of Welsh society where all are welcome and people are respected for who they are and what they contribute and bring to each other from different beliefs and cultures.

“We recognise that there is a continuing problem in some parts of Britain where extremist Muslims are still active and recruit vulnerable devout young Muslims to their anti Western, anti Christian, anti modernisation cause. But the Muslim Council of Wales rejects these behaviours and describes them as anti Islamic. The Defence League’s profound and dangerous mistake is to equate the behaviours of the minority with the majority of Muslims in Britain.

“We believe that patient work is needed to overcome suspicions and stereotypes. We have committed ourselves to that kind of work together. On June 16th we will be celebrating with the First Minister of Wales our series of consultations, called Finding A Common Voice, which aims at building trust and positive relationships between the Christian and Muslim communities and others in Wales.

“We invite all those who are tempted by the negative and distrustful approach taken by the Defence League to join in celebrating a more positive and rich experience of diversity.”

The Peace Vigil will be held at the steps of the Senedd on Friday, June 4, at 7.30pm.

For more information about the Finding A Common Voice event with the First Minister of Wales, please visit:


and in welsh
Church in Wales

UAF launce new website without so much as a fanfare. (UK)

As the BNP website problems continue to be a source of embarrassment to the party. Another nail in the coffin has been hammered home with a much needed modernisation of the United Against Fascism “UAF” website, which has largely gone unnoticed.

Gone is the badly designed site as the new one is much more user friendly and far more pleasing to the eye.

Support or not support the UAF is a personal choice but we welcome the new website as another formative tool in the fight against the far right in Britain.

to visit the site please click Here


A solitary stone, amid the dereliction and graffiti of an abandoned livestock market and abattoir, seems a flimsy foundation for the fulfilment of the greatest dream of Nourrédine Cheikh’s life. But as France, in common with much of Europe, stands at hazardous crossroads in its relations with the world of Islam, what the stone represents is enough to make Mr Cheikh a contented man. Before the end of next year, he hopes, it will be part of the grand mosque for which Muslims in the bustling Mediterranean port of Marseille have campaigned for decades but which he feared, at times, he would not live to see. The symbolic sign that work has at last begun also brings hope of a swift breakthrough in the task of raising the large sums of money still needed to produce a place of worship for up to 7,000 people. Algeria is the only country so far to commit itself to making a donation towards the €22 million (Dh98.5m) project and has promised an announcement within the coming months. After extensive lobbying of diplomats in France from all other Muslim countries, Mr Cheikh, president of the Grand Mosque association, is convinced their moral support will be converted into financial aid once Algiers declares its hand.

For French Muslims, but also for non-Muslims convinced of a need for the provision of modern facilities for those practising the country’s most popular faith after Catholicism, it cannot come a moment too soon. At a ceremony attended by 200 guests, the conservative UMP mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, said earlier this month it was as logical that the city’s Muslims, no less than its Christians and Jews, should have a significant monument to mark their faith. Referring to persistent attempts by the far Right in Marseille to block the project, he said: “People have tried to stop us but we were able, using the laws and rules of the republic, to overcome difficulties. Marseille is a mosaic of communities and each must be at ease.” The development, described by Mr Cheikh as “historic and extremely moving”, comes at a difficult time for those promoting the interests of integration in a number of European countries. Last month, Belgium’s lower house voted in favour of prohibiting the full veil while in France, there is tension over the government’s proposed ban on the head-to-toe burqa. A Muslim woman was given an on-the-spot fine for driving her car while fully veiled in the western city of Nantes, and anti-Muslim feeling has also been aroused by news that the first gang suspect to be arrested, after a shoot-out near Paris that left a young policewoman dead, is Moroccan.

In Italy, another Muslim woman has been fined for wearing a burqa in public; she was on her way to a mosque near her home. And in the Netherlands, the anti-immigrant Freedom Party of Geert Wilders enjoyed success in local elections, and is expected to win extra seats – and possibly even a chance to join a coalition government – at next Wednesday’s general election. Mr Cheikh said negative media coverage and a tendency to blame immigrants for economic and social problems, makes integration harder to achieve. Community relations are also harmed, he argues, by the significant discrimination suffered by people of north African origin in jobs and housing. “My experience is that genuinely religious people, Catholics, Protestants and Jews, are much more tolerant than those with no real faith,” he said. He feels the image of Muslims generally is tarnished by the activities of extremists and said he is horrified when “acts of terrorism are claimed to have been carried out in the name of Islam when in fact they are contrary to the principles of the religion”. Yet he remains optimistic about the future, both in terms of the mosque project and in tackling causes of misunderstanding. “I certainly believe that non-Muslims will be among those offering donations to ensure this mosque is built,” he said.

Now 71, Mr Cheikh, an economist married with three grown-up children, arrived in France from Algeria 45 years ago. Marseille, for centuries a magnet for migrants, was already home to 100,000 Muslims, most from the Maghreb countries on the other side of the Mediterranean. It took a further 11 years for the city to have its first mosque, in a converted garage. Even now, among more than 60 places of worship, only four can truly be considered mosques, Mr Cheikh said, and far too many of the rest are in wholly inadequate premises. In a city of up to 250,000 Muslims, more than a quarter of the total population and 45,000 of them practising their faith regularly, there will still be a shortfall of 15,000 places when the Grand Mosque is complete, with a prayer hall measuring 2,500 square metres. “But it is a very emotional time for me, knowing that by the grace of God, I will see the project come to fruition,” he said. “There have been times when I doubted that I would see that day, and times when I have felt weary of the battle, the disputes. Other Muslim leaders looked me in the eye and told me I had been chosen for this mission and had to see it through.”

The National

Jewish leaders condemn the English Defence League

They accuse the far right group of "bigotry" and "Islamophobia".

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the English Defence League has established a Jewish division. The far right, anti-Islam protest group whose violent nature was exposed by the Guardian last week (and covered by the NS here) has professed support for Israel in the past and is now urging British Jews to "lead the counter-Jihad fight in England".

But its advances have been swiftly rebuffed by Jewish leaders. Mark Gardner, communications director for the Community Security Trust, told the Chronicle:

"The EDL intimidate entire Muslim communities, causing tension and fear. Jews ought to remember that we have long experience of being on the receiving end of this kind of bigotry."

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said:

"The EDL's supposed 'support' for Israel is empty and duplicitous. It is built on a foundation of Islamophobia and hatred which we reject entirely.
Sadly, we know only too well what hatred for hatred's sake can cause. The overwhelming majority will not be drawn in by this transparent attempt to manipulate a tense political conflict."

The New Statesman

EDL step up their Jewish recruitment (UK)

Extreme-right English Defence League sets up ‘Jewish division’ to lead the fight ‘against jihad’

The English Defence League, the extreme right-wing anti-Islamic-fundamentalism group, has launched a "Jewish division", encouraging members of the community to "lead the counter-Jihad fight in England".

It has signed up hundreds of followers on Facebook since the launch last week. Supporters include an ex-Community Security Trust volunteer who claims "a lot of Jewish guys want to get stuck in".

One follower wrote on Facebook "we are all Shayetet 13", in support of the IDF naval special forces unit involved in the Gaza flotilla incident.

But Jewish community organisations responded to the initiative with shock, saying the EDL intimidated Muslim communities and claiming its support for Israel was "empty and duplicitous".

The former CST member, Mark Israel, claimed Jews should back the EDL as an alternative to existing community groups.
He said: "I've been involved with groups like CST and the 62 Group for 40 years.

"At first I thought the EDL was an off-shoot of the BNP but I have been investigating them. They are very pro-active, unlike the Board of Deputies. They are our allies. We have a common cause. These guys want to have dialogue with the Jewish community.

"I know a lot of Jewish guys who want to get stuck in and want to support a physical presence. It is not your typical thing people want to be associated with, but in this day and age we need something like this. Is the CST enough?"

The EDL mission statement says the new division is for "Jewish supporters of the EDL, and supporters of Jewish people everywhere. We are non-racist/fascist and anyone is welcome if they want to live under English values and fully integrate into our way of life".

Last September the EDL brandished the Israeli flag at a demonstration and called on supporters to launch a counter-protest against a pro-Hizbollah march in Trafalgar Square.

Mark Gardner, CST communications director, said: "The EDL intimidate entire Muslim communities, causing tension and fear. Jews ought to remember that we have long experience of being on the receiving end of this kind of bigotry."

Jon Benjamin, Board of Deputies chief executive, said: "The EDL's supposed 'support' for Israel is empty and duplicitous. It is built on a foundation of Islamophobia and hatred which we reject entirely.

"Sadly, we know only too well what hatred for hatred's sake can cause. The overwhelming majority will not be drawn in by this transparent attempt to manipulate a tense political conflict."

The JC

Allgier's lawyers want neo-Nazi's tattoos covered during trial (USA)

Attorneys for Curtis Michael Allgier are afraid the murder suspect's head-to-toe tattoos -- which include swastikas, neo-Nazi symbols and the words "Skin Head" written across his forehead -- could negatively influence a jury.

So to ensure he gets a fair trial, they want the tattoos on the white supremacist's face, head, neck and hands covered up, even though that would "substantially change his appearance from what he looked like" on the day three years ago when he allegedly killed a Corrections officer during a visit to a Salt Lake City medical clinic.

Hiding the tattoos would potentially prejudice the state's case, but the defense argues the prejudice to the state is outweighed by prejudice to Allgier.

The defense motion, filed late last month, proposed covering the tattoos during trial but does not specify how they propose to do so.

Allgier, 30, is charged with capital murder for allegedly killing 60-year-old Stephen Anderson with his own gun after Anderson unshackled Allgier for an MRI scan on June 25, 2007.

Attorneys have told 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan they expect to be able to try the case in the spring of 2011.

But the recent loss of one of Allgier's public defenders -- Rudy Bautista, who left the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association to join a law firm -- could delay that trial expectation.

The last time one of the four-member defense team left the office, it delayed a planned preliminary hearing for five months.

Allgier's next court hearing is set for Sept. 1, when the judge hopes to resolve outstanding legal issues. No trial dates have been set.

Meanwhile, the Utah Supreme Court is deciding whether a letter written by a former Utah State Prison inmate that contains information about Allgier can be unsealed and released to the public. The defense has expressed concern that publicity about the letter's contents, penned by Brent Mayon Cobb, would jeopardize Allgier's right to a fair trial.

Following a three-day preliminary hearing in March, Allgier was bound over on one count of capital murder, as well as charges seven other felonies connected to Allgier's short-lived escape, which ended when a citizen disarmed him during a struggle inside an Arby's restaurant.

Allgier's attorneys have said they hope to resolve the case short of a trial. But prosecutors have said that no plea negotiations have been held.


'Neo-Nazi' fails in bid to clear court (Australia)

A Perth magistrate has rejected an application by an alleged neo-Nazi to clear the court during a hearing into the shooting of a suburban mosque.

Bradley Neil Trappitt, 25, of Greenmount, appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday charged with three counts of discharging a firearm and destroying property.

The charges were in relation to three shots fired into the dome roof of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Queens Park on February 4.

Trappitt was arrested with Marshall Jacob Hort, 24, of High Wycombe - who is charged with the same offences - after police conducted raids on homes across Perth.

Hort appeared in court alongside Trappitt.

A third man, Dominic Helmut Peter, 19, of Kalamunda, was arrested later and also appeared with Trappitt and Hort, charged with one count of possessing an unarmed firearm.

Police allege Peter supplied the other two men with a .303 calibre rifle used in the shooting.

All three are alleged to be members of the extreme nationalist group Combat 18 (C18), which police claim has effectively been disbanded in Western Australia due to the arrests.

Appearing before Magistrate Paul Heaney, Trappitt applied to have the court cleared during the hearing.

Mr Heaney rejected the application, stating: "We don't do that here.

"We have open courts in Australia," Mr Heaney summed up before granting all three men bail to reappear on July 2.

Outside the court, Trappitt refused to answer reporters' questions relating to his association with C18, which police have described as "an organisation specialising in hate crime and neo-Nazi affiliated".

Originally based in the UK, C18 has chapters all over the world and is based on the ideas of neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

The number 18 is derived from the initials of Adolf Hitler, with A and H being the first and eighth letters of the alphabet.

News SMH

Former BNP activist made Blackburn with Darwen's culture boss

A former British National Party activist has been put in charge of culture in a town hall reshuffle.

Eacrfoft councillor Trevor Maxfield used to be a local organiser for the far right party before being elected to Blackburn with Darwen Council three years ago, representing For Darwen.

Following last month’s local elections, he has been promoted to the role of executive member for leisure and culture, putting him in charge of the borough’s leisure centres, parks and cultural festivals.

Coun Maxfield said he no longer shared the views of the far-right party.

He said he accepted questions being asked about his involvement with the BNP, but added: “It was in the past. I no longer share the BNP’s views, and you can ask any of the Asian members of the council. I get on with them very well.

“I do not consider myself to be far-right. I am white working class, and it’s as simple as that. In fact my national politics are left wing.”

For Darwen currently shares control of the council with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.

Labour Sunnyhurst councillor Dave Smith said: “To be fair to Trevor he’s quite a good bloke. I think his BNP stuff is in the past. ”

Tory council leader Mike Lee added: “I was not aware he had been involved with the BNP. I had heard murmurings, but when I’ve been with him he’s never said anything that would equate to a BNP comment so I can only take as I find.”
Coun Maxfield warned of spending cuts in his portfolio, which has recorded shortfalls in recent years, but said he had not yet seen a detailed budget breakdown.

His promotion means For Darwen Party leader Tony Melia is no longer on the executive board.

As part of the changes, Lib Dem Marsh House councillor Simon Huggill has been put in charge of housing.

In the past he has been a strong critic of the multimillion pound Housing Market Renewal scheme, which will form a key part of his new portfolio, and campaigned against demolition work to make way for Darwen’s new academy

Lancaster Teligraph