A U.K. man was arrested for stirring up racial hatred on social media after he posted an account of his confrontation with a Muslim woman.
Matthew Doyle, a 46-year-old Croydon resident, was taken into police custody on March 23. In his post, he wrote that he had asked a woman he saw on the street to explain the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, the day before.
“I confronted a [M]uslim woman in Croydon yesterday,” Doyle wrote on Twitter, which he later deleted, according to the Christian Science Monitor. "I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'nothing to do with me.' A mealy mouthed reply."
His post quickly went viral, and he received an outpouring of negative comments criticizing him for what many saw as an anti-Muslim stance. Doyle and others have been called out by activists and politicians, who say that they are blaming the entire Muslim community for the extremist actions taken by a few.
“The political climate in Europe and in the US has taken it to the worst in terms of the level of anti-Muslim bigotry,” Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, told Russia Today. “Underlining this attempt to scapegoat and blame all Muslims, are a set of socio and economic vulnerabilities that are at the root of this rising level of hysteria and paranoia and anti-Muslim sentiment.”
Doyle, however, responded to criticism of his posting by saying that he did not mean to demonize Muslims, and simply wanted to understand the woman’s opinion about the events in Brussels, according to The Telegraph. He also emphasized that his more inflammatory posts are meant to be taken as jokes.
"I'm not some far-right merchant, I'm not a mouthpiece for any kind of racism or radicalism," Doyle told The Telegraph. "If I was xenophobic I wouldn't live in London. I have a Muslim neighbor who got burgled, and I was one of the first people to go around to help."