An official report into the death of two teenagers from Brighton paints an unpleasant picture of racism directed at their family over several years.
Abdullah and Jaffar Deghayes, who died in 2014, are referred to as siblings W and X in a serious case review published by the Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board.
Abdullah had just turned 18 when he died and Jaffar was 17. They spent part of their childhood living in Saltdean.
Sussex Police said that they had taken the racist problem seriously and had even installed cameras and made arrests.
One youngster was cautioned but the force had been unable to obtain enough evidence to prosecute anyone.
Some racist incidents happened at about the time the boys’ uncle Omar Deghayes returned to Brighton having been held without charge in Guantanamo Bay for almost six years. He was freed in 2007.
But some incidents pre-dated this and others happened later.
The report said: “There is, according to information provided to the review, little widespread evidence of reported racism against Muslims.
“There had been – prior to the period under review – some such activity in the part of Brighton where the family lived, some of which, but not all, was targeted directly at the family following media stories about a relative.
“The children grew up in a locality in which there was a successful organised campaign in 2003 to stop the creation of a centre for asylum-seekers following both pro and anti-demonstrations.
“This had involved various people settling into strong positions sometimes aligned with anti-immigrant/anti-BAME (black and minority ethnic) agendas of other groups and political parties.
“There had been protesters dressed as Osama Bin Laden and a picture included a protester dressed in a KKK (Ku Klux Klan) style white robe.
“The appearance of anti-Islamic graffiti, in the locality where the family lived, was reported from 2007 onwards.
“This included in 2009 the use of 12in (30cm) high lettering visible from afar, stating ‘Behead all Muslims’. This deeply offensive slogan reappeared several times.”
The serious case review refers to “organised right-wing groups targeting the family”.
It said: “Other activity, while directed at the family, involved wider area disruption, such as described in a complaint to the police of incidents being to create ‘an atmosphere of hatred and mistrust’ between the family and neighbours.”
Giving one example, the report said: “In January 2013, a group of individuals, describing themselves as members of far right groups had to be removed … having turned up with flags and megaphones shouting and falsely accusing a resident … of being a jihadist and a terrorist as well as various other slanders.”
The report said: “The family … experienced racism from within the local community, according to information provided by the community safety manager’s report to the serious case review.
“The racist incidents were reportedly sustained until 2010 and led to one alleged perpetrator receiving a caution.
“Over time, (twins Abdul and Abdullah’s) behaviour changed and they began to defend themselves, retaliate and then were perceived sometimes as being the perpetrators of the incidents.
“From 2009 there began to be reports of the boys being involved in anti-social behaviour and crime, getting into fights.”
The report gave some background about the changing way incidents have been handled. It said: “The recording of hate incidents and the legislation associated with hate crimes was enacted between 1998 and 2001.
“However, the oversight and monitoring within the police force varied, both locally and nationally. The same is true of anti-social behaviour.
“The monitoring of repeat victimisation was only formally established following the tragic death of Fiona Pilkington in 2007.
“Within Sussex Police, the monitoring of religiously motivated incidents has been a priority with work alongside victim support, but the police force level Anti-Social Behaviour and Hate Crime Board (which now exists to review hate incidents and provide scrutiny) was not embedded at the time of the incidents described in the review.”
Brighton and Hove Muslim Forum chairman Tariq Jung said: “We were not really aware of the type of things that were going on.
“We’ve got to work together to stop this happening ever again.”
Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell, the police commander for Brighton and Hove, said: “Some of those claims were plagued with evidential difficulties. It was very difficult to establish the facts.
“Any reports of hate crimes in any of its forms are taken very seriously.”
She added: “We are aware that there is under-reporting.”
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