Facebook antisemitism arrests

17 May 2012 by CST

Strathclyde Police have charged five adults and a child with a breach of the peace with religious and racial aggravations. This follows searches, computer seizures and arrests made on Friday 11th May, 2012 in Glasgow and East Renfrewshire.

The arrests concern antisemitic remarks posted in September 2011, upon a Facebook page entitled “Welcome to Israel, only kidding you’re in Giffnock”. (Giffnock is home to many of Glasgow's Jews and contains Scotland's largest synagogue.) The page attracted almost 1,000 likes and its photo profile showed the late Reverend Ernest Levy, a Holocaust survivor and probably the most respected Scottish Jew of his generation.

The page was removed shortly after its creation. At the time, CST Blog discussed it here (in a slightly broader context about a well known Glasgow journalist having pondered "If Giffnock was Gaza").

Strathclyde Police's media release on the arrests is shown below. It includes comment by CST, stressing the importance of opposing race hatred on a social network; and praising the determination of local Police to properly pursue it. 

ARRESTS FOLLOWING ANTI-SEMITIC COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK

Following complaints from representatives of the local Jewish Community, police at Giffnock launched an enquiry into a social networking site entitled 'Welcome toIsrael, only kidding you're in Giffnock'. This site had attracted a number of posts which were anti-Semitic and racist in nature.

Following an operation on the morning of Friday 11 May involving nearly 50 police officers seven addresses in Glasgow andEast Renfrewshirewere searched under warrant. A significant quantity of computer equipment was seized, and five adult males aged between 18 and 21 and one male juvenile aged 15 were arrested and charged with a Breach of the Peace with religious and racial aggravations. One further male aged 24  was detained and later released without charge pending further enquiry.

The Area Commander for East Renfrewshire, Chief Inspector Alan Murray, stated;

'This was a very complex and protracted enquiry that required assistance from many departments of Strathclyde Police and the support of the Procurator Fiscal at Paisley. I hope it clearly demonstrates that Strathclyde Police will not tolerate Hate crimes of any kind. It should cause anyone who believes they can get away with this sort of behaviour to think again'.

Kenny Donnelly, Procurator Fiscal at Paisley said;

'COPFS has a zero-tolerance approach to crimes motivated by bigotry and intolerance of any kind and works closely with Strathclyde Police to investigate allegations of this nature.  There is no place in modern Scotland for such behaviour and we will do all in our power to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.'

The Community Security Trust, which exists to help protect the Jewish Community in the UK also commented as follows;

'CST welcomes the arrests of suspects regarding alleged antisemitic statements. Glaswegian Jews should be reassured that local Police take antisemitism seriously, and that they are working with CST and the rest of the Jewish community in tackling it when it does arise. In addition, the spread of all types of hatred on Social Networking sites and similar media is a growing problem. So, it is hoped that this innovative investigation by Giffnock and Strathclyde Police, supported by the Procurator Fiscal, will provide a helpful precedent for all of society.'


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights