Abused by members of the community for speaking out against Islamophobia

Collage of abuse received by Stephen Hoffman after he spoke out against Islamophobia
Collage of abuse received by Stephen Hoffman after he spoke out against Islamophobia

It started on January 23 2019.

As a proud Zionist who had worked in Israel advocacy, I was about to face up to Jewish Islamophobes.

As Advocacy and Outreach Manager for the Interfaith and Human Rights NGO Voice of Salam, I support Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS).

I went to my first event on January 23 2019 and posted on how heartening it was to see Jews and Muslims led by the founder of MAAS, Fiyaz Mughal unite to fight antisemitism.

I committed myself to fight rising Islamophobia and called on people to fight antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Judging by the response of one Islamophobe, I’d called for the murder of the first born.

It is important to note that Fiyaz Mughal has explained his brief involvement with Alison Chabloz, apologised for it in an op-ed and dedicated himself to the fight against Islamophobia, Islamism and antisemitism. He is a shining light, we’d do well to follow.

Moreover, he has gone out of his way to educate the Muslim community about the Holocaust.

This was just an opening salvo of the abuse I was about to encounter, which shook me to my core, caused me sleepless nights, brought me to tears and affected my mental health.

I lay awake at night wondering if the Islamophobes and their apologists had a point. Was I a Jew hater? Was I abandoning my community? Maybe I was a fake Jew.

This tsunami of abuse began on 11th February 2019 when I announced on Facebook that I would be writing a report for Voice of Salam on Islamophobia in the Jewish community, whilst at the same time the founder of Voice of Salam, Elizabeth Arif-Fear would be writing a report on antisemitism in the Muslim community.

The abuse began after a well known agitator in the Jewish community attacked my report (which I don’t mind), but I took issue when I was compated to the antisemitic organisation, Spinwatch.

Intentionally or not, a pile on started on me on my own Facebook wall and on the agitator’s Facebook wall.

I had enraged the Islamophobes in the Jewish community.

Part one of Stephen’s post on fighting Islamophobia
Part two of Stephen’s post on fighting Islamophobia

For 24 hours I was subject to abuse from a number of people that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

It would have continued if I had not blocked the majorty of the abusers and hid my post.

Thankfully, I screenshotted the worst abuse.  There was even a personal threat sent to me by Facebook Messenger in the middle of the night which made me afraid me afraid for my personal safety.

Abuse received by Stephen Hoffman for speaking out against Islamophobia (Jewish News)

After two weeks, I emerged with a new zeal to write the report. It is also important to point out that many rushed to my defence, most of them Jewish. This reminded me despite the best intentions of the hateful Jewish minority, they do not represent most UK Jews.

Given most UK Jews are not Islamophobes why the report? Well, lots of us say how awful Islamophobia is, but when it comes to examples of Islamophobia in our own community, we either ignore or excuse it and sadly with some honourable exceptions like the CST this is an attitude from the top downwards.

Abuse received by Stephen Hoffman via personal message, for speaking out against Islamophobia (Jewish News)

This approach harms the fight against antisemitism, as how can we call for UK Muslims to challenge antisemitism in their community, if we don’t get our own house in order on Islamophobia.

Me and Elizabeth-Arif Fear will aim to publish our reports in September 2019 on Islamophobia and Antisemitism respectively, as we believe if you are to fight prejudice effectively you need to call out all forms of prejudice, however much abuse you may receive for doing so.

I hope people take the time to read it, so that we can look forward to the day when Islamophobia and antisemitism are consigned to the dustbin of history.

About the Author
Stephen is a young professional who has worked in Israel advocacy and throughout his work career has fought all types of prejudice, with a focus on challenging antisemitism and Islamophobia. He now runs his own consultancy, which focuses on advising people on how to run effective political campaigns, based on his experience of running successful campaigns inside and outside of Parliament.
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