LONDON: The founder of a Muslim hiking group in Britain has said they have received an “overwhelming response in terms of solidarity” after racist comments were made about the group on Facebook.
One of the hikers, who shared photos from the Christmas Day walk in England’s Peak District, said they had seen a comment “comparing the walkers to the Serengeti wildebeest migration.”
Haroon Mota, the founder of Muslim Hikers, led more than 100 people on a Christmas Day hike. He said he chose Dec. 25 as the route would be quieter than usual.
But after sharing photos from the trip on Facebook, the walkers were accused of damaging the area and not being “proper walkers,” as well as having racist comments made about them.
Mota, from Coventry, told the Press Association: “There were some very racist comments being made.”
“These types of comments, racist comments, only make it more problematic for those from our community who feel less empowered to get outside.
“For people who might be joining for the first time, they might think ‘oh wow, is this what people actually think?’
“One of the reasons why we set up Muslim Hikers was so that we could stand together and for greater diversity and inclusion.
“We’ve been working extremely hard to create a culture of confidence in the outdoors.”
Another hiker, Selma Mehboob, 43, shared pictures from the day on a local Facebook group, but was met with abuse by a minority of people.
She told PA: “I have never seen comments made like this about any other groups of people walking in this Facebook group, so why was it picked up when I posted our trek?
“Someone made a comment that it’s not racism, just that some people enjoy hating on others.
“Whilst I appreciate there is truth in that, unfortunately there were some racist comments such as comparing the walkers to the Serengeti wildebeest migration.
“The majority of comments had been wonderfully supportive and I need to stress how heart warming and reassuring the support has been for the trek, but I noticed early on that there were some quite disparaging and mocking comments.”
Mota said that despite the abuse by some, the group’s hike has been well received by many others.
Muslim Hikers wrote on Twitter that they had gained an extra 4,000 followers since the Christmas Day hike.
Mote said: “Some of these comments were very unpleasant. However, after sharing these comments we’ve had such an overwhelming response in terms of solidarity from the wider community.
“The majority of people will just find extra motivation and think ‘actually, do you know what? Stuff them’.”