Belfast Telegraph

Britain First video outside Islamic centre in Belfast condemned

A video taken outside Belfast's Islamic Centre featuring independent councillor Jolene Bunting and the deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been condemned as "grotesque and offensive".

In the video, posted to Britain First's Facebook page, the group's deputy leader Jayda Fransen refers to the "Islamification of the mainland" and says London "looks more like Pakistan than England".

She also refers to the Islamic Centre, located near to the Malone Road, as a "den of iniquity".

Speaking about the video, SDLP Councillor Tim Atwood said: "I condemn the grotesque and offensive comments made by Cllr Jolene Bunting and Jayden Fransen from Britain First outside the Islamic Centre last night.

"There can be no place in Belfast for abusive comments such as ‘Muslims communities are trying to achieve colonisation’ or ‘Campaigning against dens of inequities’.

"Cllr Bunting should disassociate herself from these shameless and reckless comments. Given the increase in racist attacks, we need to need to express solidarity with all communities including our Islamic neighbours."

The video has also been slammed by Green Party councillor Georgina Milne, who has said she will be investigating whether Belfast City Council's Code of Conduct was breached.

"Belfast City Council is currently looking at an amendment to Standing Order 30 which would state that members should not impute motives or use offensive expressions in reference to any persons of sections of society that shows contempt on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious belief, age or disability,” the East Belfast councillor said.

"As it is, councillors are already expected to hold themselves to a higher standard of behaviour than the general public and I intend to look at whether this member has acted against our Code of Conduct with these stomach-churning comments which are tantamount to hate speech.

“I would offer my full support to Belfast Islamic Centre and the Muslim community in Belfast. I would also appeal to anybody in East Belfast who has experienced hate and harassment to reach out to me and I will do anything in my power to help.”

The PSNI records hate crimes under a number of different categories, including racist, homophobic, sectarian (which includes actions between the nationalist and unionist communities), faith/religion, disability, and transphobic.

Figures released last month found between June 2016 and June 2017 there were 1,062 racist incident reported to the PSNI, outstripping the 938 incidents involving traditional religious sectarianism.

Jayda Fransen is due to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Thursday on charges related to a speech made in Belfast in August in which it is alleged she used threatening and abusive language.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police have received a report regarding a video posted on social media relating to a speech made in Belfast last night (Tuesday, 12 December).

"Enquiries are ongoing."

The Belfast Islamic Centre could not be reached on Wednesday evening.

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