Posters depicting a crusader chasing a Muslim woman in niqab have appeared in a town in Essex and are being treated as a hate crime, police have said.
The posters, which had “Islamists not welcome” and ““stay back or we will kick you back” written on them were put up in numerous streets in Rayleigh town.
They included a symbol used by the pan-European white supremacist ‘Generation Identity’, alongside a silhouette image of a crusader on a horse chasing an armed woman in niqab.
At first, police officers did not consider the posters as a possible hate crime, according to the Southend Standard, which initially reported on the stickers.
However, an Essex Police spokeswoman told The Independent: “We are aware of stickers placed in various locations around Rayleigh displaying messages including ‘Islamists not welcome’. We are keen to speak to those responsible for them to discuss their intent. We are treating this as a hate incident.”
Ahmad Khwaja, chairman of the Southend Ethnic Minority Forum, told the Evening Standard: “It is both worrying and disappointing that anti-Islamic posters have been appearing. This Islamophobia is fuelled by ignorance and it is likely that the people posting them have had little or no contact with any Muslim people in their own lives.
“Sadly anti-Muslim bias is prevalent and has become normalised in the media and politics today. It is therefore yet to be taken as seriously as other hate crimes such as those of antisemitism or homophobia.”
Generation Identity describes itself as a “patriotic youth movement” that believes in “homeland, freedom and tradition”.
It advocates the “white genocide” conspiracy theory that inspired the Christchurch mosque killer, Brenton Tarrant.
The posters found in Rayleigh are sold via a merchandise company linked to the group which was managed by Tore Rasmussen, a Norwegian former neo-Nazi who was investigated over the stabbing of an African migrant in Stavanger in 2001.
He is one of three Generation Identity members that have been blocked from entering Britain their presence was ruled “not conducive to the public good”, but has since left the group.