The founder of a Muslim walking group and a university teacher from Manchester have retaliated against racists who have posted vile comments on Facebook.
Muslim Hikers, founded by Haroon Mota, led a group of more than 100 people on a Christmas Day walk in the Peak District of Derbyshire.
But after those who were on the walk shared photos of their hike on Facebook, they were accused of damaging the area and of not being “proper hikers”, while Mr Mota said they were also met with racist responses.
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Salma Mehboob, 43, a psychology teacher at Manchester Metropolitan University who went on the hike, said they had seen a comment “comparing the hikers to the migration of Serengeti wildebeest”.
Sir. Mota, who set up the site for Muslim migrants during the lockdown of coronavirus, said they have since received an ‘overwhelming response in the form of solidarity from the wider community’.
Sir. Mota, 36, from Coventry, said his group had chosen December 25 as the area would be quieter than usual.
About 130 hikers went on a hike to Mam Tor.
“There were some very racist comments,” Mr Mota said.
“This type of comment, racist comment, only makes it more problematic for those of our society who feel less empowered to get outside.
“For people who might be joining for the first time, they might be thinking ‘oh wow, is that what people are actually thinking?’
“One of the reasons we created Muslim Hikers was for us to stand together and for greater diversity and inclusion.
“We have worked extremely hard to create a culture of trust in the great outdoors.”
Mehboob from Manchester shared his photos of the event with the Facebook group Derbyshire and the Peak District Walks, a public group that has more than 90,000 members.
Ms Mehboob said the “sense of entitlement” from some commentators was “absurd”.
She said: “I’ve never seen comments like this about any other groups of people joining this Facebook group, so why was it intercepted when I posted our tour?
“Someone came up with a comment that it’s not racism, just that some people enjoy hating others.
“Although I understand that there is truth in it, there were unfortunately some racist comments, such as comparing the hikers with the Serengeti wildebeest.
“Most of the comments had been wonderfully supportive, and I have to stress how heartwarming and reassuring the support has been for the trip, but I noticed early on that there were some quite derogatory and mocking comments.”
Ms Mehboob said she had reported comments to the group’s administrator and they had since been removed, while Mr Mota said the group’s administrator had been in touch to confirm that they had blocked and removed comments.
He added that thousands more have been following Muslim hikers on social media since Christmas Day, while also receiving offers of financial support.
“Most people just want to find extra motivation and think ‘actually, you know what? Fill them up,'” Mr Mota said.
“Some of these comments were very unpleasant.
“But after sharing these comments, we have received such an overwhelming response in the form of solidarity from the wider community.
“In a positive way, it has given us an opportunity to really call that type of behavior out.”
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