In 2017, I started getting regular messages from an anonymous Twitter user telling me my religion was ‘evil’. Eventually I responded – and he agreed to meet face to face. By Hussein Kesvani
In 2017, I started to receive messages from a Twitter user who called themself True Brit, telling me that my religion was “Satanic”, “barbaric” and “evil”. Bearing a profile image of the St George’s cross and a biography that simply read “Anti-Islam, stop Islamic immigration now”, True Brit often spammed me with pictures taken from anti-Muslim websites, blogs and Facebook groups. Sometimes they would be cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad as a sexual deviant. Other times, I would be sent memes I had seen circulating in rightwing communities online, depicting groups of south Asian men who had been arrested for child sexual grooming, or alleged Syrian refugees who were, supposedly, secret members of Isis. One meme showed a man with a long beard, in battle camouflage, brandishing a pistol in one hand and holding the hand of a woman wearing niqab. In bold white writing below the image were the words “EUROPE IN 2020”.
True Brit never said anything directly to me to begin with. I had seen social media profiles like this one, and much worse, for years. Like those accounts, True Brit had few followers – 65 in total. Their activity on Twitter predominantly consisted of retweets from rightwing news sites such as Breitbart and Fox News. They frequently posted videos of online celebrities who were popular on anti-Muslim forums and Facebook groups, including Milo Yiannopoulos, a rightwing “provocateur” who has referred to Islam as “the real rape culture”, and Paul Joseph Watson, a UK-based YouTuber and editor of the conspiracy-theory website Infowars.com, who produces weekly videos about the “dangers of Islam” in the west, with titles such as The Truth About Islamophobia and Dear Gays: The Left Betrayed You For Islam. True Brit was also a fan of the British rightwing commentator Katie Hopkins, who in 2015 likened Syrian refugees to cockroaches, and who until recently produced anti-Islam videos for Canadian far-right outlet The Rebel Media.
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