The 'You Tuber' was already infamous for rioting and spreading hatred against Jews in 2021. Now even Muslims say that he had been inflaming Hindu-Muslim tensions in Leicester.
A social media handle showing Mohammed Hijab (in spectacles) leading a 'patrol' in Leicester.
The Leicester region of the United Kingdom, and other areas, are witnessing intense communal disorder over the past few weeks with clashes between people of Indian and Pakistani origin, and Hindus and Muslims. Amidst the chaos that ensued following clashes after an India-Pakistan cricket match, many instances of vandalisation and aggressive mobilisation have been reported.
But in this, the role of one key person, very visible on social media, has not been investigated further. Mohammed Hijab is often described as a ‘You Tube personality’ meaning his ‘activism’ is driven by You Tube videos and social media. He is British-Egyptian and runs a You Tube channel called Salam which has more than 106,000 subscribers. To understand the extent of his following, he has around 81,000 followers over Twitter, 148,000 followers on Instagram and around 598,000 subscribers on You Tube. His is significantly known for his ideals over religion and the teachings of Islam along with his own interpretations of the texts.
While it is a little unclear where he gets his funding from, but in 2018, a crowdfunding effort online for Salam could garner only $11,000 of a target of $45,000.
He calls himself a researcher of ‘political philosophy and the philosophy of religion’; more accurately, he is a polemicist speaking on Islam and its relationship with different communities on You Tube, Twitter, and Instagram. He has even been platformed by Oxford.
When the clashes broke out at Leister, he was often seen with a megaphone on the streets and instigating young Muslim men with disparaging, and often, abusive, comments about Hindus.
This is not the first time that Hijab has been in the eye of the storm. He was one of the prominent figures accused of fuelling hatred and violence against the Jewish community during the antisemitic riots in the UK in 2021. Many Jewish citizens came out to report the threats they received and the direct acts of violence against them. The document of the Community Security Trust on the 2021 riots highlighted the name of Mohammed Hijab among the people responsible for inciting hate crimes, antisemitic slogans, and public mobilisations against Jewish people.
Despite such a background, Mohammed Hijab remains free to mobilise the people along his extremist and even antisemitic ideas. Hijab is connected to one Majid Freeman who himself engages in constant slurs and communal extremism over his social media handles.
So abrasive is Hijab’s mobilisation that even Muslims have accused him of only seeking to incite the situation, and pushed him to ‘put the mike down’. With temples attacked and flags at a temple torn and burnt by Muslims, and Hindus conducting a show of strength march-past, the mood in many parts of British cities like Leicester, Birmingham and others remain tense, and men like Hijab only work to inflame the situation.
These Hindu-Muslim tensions have been among the worst in three decades in the UK, and police have asked people to refrain from engaging in misinformation and rumours while only sharing the credible information to contain further clashes.
Curbing instigation would be key to keeping the peace.