CAIRO – A British man in Croydon, north London, has been arrested for inciting racial hatred on social media after tweeting that he confronted a Muslim woman asking her to explain Brussels.
“We have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media,” a spokesman for Scotland Yard said, the Independent reported on Thursday, March 24.
“He was arrested tonight at an address in Croydon and remains in custody at a south London police station.”
The dilemma started after a man, believed to be Mathew P Doyle, posted a tweet on Wednesday morning saying, “I confronted a Muslim woman yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘Nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.”‘
The tweet followed attacks on Brussels that left 31 people killed and nearly 200 injured.
The comment went viral on the social media site before being deleted, sparking anger over Doyle’s move to target a random woman to explain terrorism to him.
People replied to his comment asking him to explain the actions of white terrorist Anders Breivik, colonization or slavery.
“I approached a white man in Camden this morning, asked him to explain Anders Breivik,” one wrote on Twitter.
“Please explain colonization. Slavery. Brittish [sic] Imperialism. Christian Extremists. Please,” another tweeted.
“What if we all started demanding random white men on the street explain slavery, colonisation, genocide, rape,” a third wrote.
Other laughed out of his tweet, seeking to distance themselves from the Croydon Crusader.
“As a white man this has nothing to do with me,” one tweeted.
Seeing the huge reaction on twitter, Doyle, who works for a PR company, attempted to explain the tweet as a publicity stunt.
“@Gweskoyen It is all a wind up !,” he wrote. “I am in PR.”
The tone changed quickly after he admitted the incident did happen.
“Thank you for your thoughts. The incident did happen yesterday – If I was anyway threatening – I would be reported. Confront is a bad word.”
“Who cares if I insulted some towelhead ?? Really,” he added later.
Defending his comments, Doyle said he confronted the woman because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf, or hijab.
“She was wearing a flag. If I was walking down the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Union Jack then I would be open to some abuse,” he told the Huffington Post.
“When asked if he approaches Jewish men wearing skullcaps to question them on the ongoing Israel/Palestine situation he exclaimed: “Absolutely not!”
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims, estimated by 2.7 million.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Hundreds of anti-Muslim hate offences have been carried out across UK in 2013, with Britain’s Metropolitan police recording an increase of 49% than 2012.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 500 Islamophobic offencses from January to mid-November that year, compared with 336 offences in 2012 and 318 in 2011.