Man arrested on suspicion of incitement to hatred for tweet about “confronting” Muslim woman over Brussels attack
Categories: Latest News
Thursday March 24 2016
The Croydon Advertiser, The Guardian and The Independent all report on the arrest of a man who tweeted a message about “confronting” a Muslim woman on the street in Croydon and asking her to “explain Brussels”. Her response, “nothing to do with me” was described in the tweet as “A mealy mouthed reply.”
Matthew Doyle, 46, posted the message on Wednesday morning sparking a frenzy of Twitter responses by users who accused him of holding Muslims to account for actions they had no part in. One user posted the message, “Do you think that Muslim woman in Croydon represents the actions of some senseless terrorists?”.
Other users demonstrated the ridiculous nature of Doyle’s suggestion that “Muslims explain Brussels” by posting comic tweets about who else might be “confronted” to “explain” various life events. One man posted a tweet about asking an Irish woman to “explain Bono” and related her response, “Nothing to do with me”, A mealy mouthed reply.” Several other memes followed Doyle’s initial tweet.
When asked by the Huffington Post why he had approached the Muslim woman, Doyle claimed it was because she was wearing a headscarf.
He said: “She was wearing a flag. If I was walking down the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Union Jack then I would be open to some abuse.”
When asked if he would approach a Jewish man wearing a skullcap and question them about the ongoing Israel/Palestine situation he exclaimed: “Absolutely not!”.
In another tweet, Doyle referred to the Muslim woman in disparaging terms saying “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead ?? Really.”
He also posted the message “VOTE UKIP – WE NEED TO DEFEND OURSELVES FROM ISLAMIST THREATS.”
The papers report Croydon Police have arrested Mr Doyle on suspicion of incitement to racial hatred following the twitter outburst. A message tweeted on Croydon Police’s twitter page just after 9pm last night read: “Suspect arrested for inciting racial hatred on twitter.”
While the news of police action is welcome and a reminder of the serious nature of social media posts which violate criminal law on incitement, Muslims will be watching to see whether the legislation proves successful in challenging those who foment incitement to hatred against Muslims.
The extant legislation which requires proof of “intent” to successfully prosecute for incitement to religious hatred is virtually useless in delivering positive outcomes.
The reference to incitement to racial hatred in the tweet posted by Croydon Police is a reminder of the caveat exploited by Nick Griffin in 2004 when he argued, “Since Islam is not a race based religion there is no offence in criticising Islam.” Griffin was acquitted of charges on incitement to racial hatred in 2006. During his trial the prosecution noted that Griffin had shown “awareness” of the criminal law telling a meeting “that he could get seven years’ jail for his comments, but [he] appeared to use the word “Muslim” to make his attacks appear to be on religion rather than race.”