The founder of a group of Muslim backpackers said he received an “overwhelming response in terms of solidarity from the wider community” after racist comments on Facebook.
One hiker, who shared photos of the group on a Christmas Day walk, said he saw a comment “comparing the walkers to the Serengeti wildebeest migration.”
Muslim Hikers, founded by Haroon Mota, led a group of over 100 on the Christmas Day hike in the Peak District, Derbyshire.
Mr Mota, 36, of Coventry, said his group chose December 25 because the area would be quieter than usual.
However, after the hikers shared photos of the trip on Facebook, they were accused of damaging the area and not being “good walkers”, while Mr Mota said they had also received racist responses.
“There were some very racist comments,” he told the PA news agency.
âThis type of comment, racist comment, only makes it more problematic for those in our community who feel less allowed to go out.
âFor people who might be joining us for the first time, they might be thinking, ‘oh wow, do people really think? “
âOne of the reasons we created Muslim Hikers was so that we could stand together and for greater diversity and inclusion.
âWe have worked extremely hard to create a culture of trust in the outdoors. “
Salma Mehboob, 43, from Manchester, did the hike. She then shared her photos from the event with the Derbyshire and Peak District Walks Facebook group, a public group with more than 90,000 members.
Ms Mehboob, professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that some commentators’ “sense of entitlement” was “absurd”.
She told PA, âI’ve never seen comments like this on other groups of people walking through this Facebook group, so why was it echoed when I posted our hike?
âSomeone said it’s not racism, just that some people like to hate other people.
âWhile I appreciate that there is some truth to this, there have unfortunately been racist comments such as the comparison of walkers to the migrating Serengeti wildebeest.
“The majority of the comments were wonderfully encouraging and I must stress how heartwarming and reassuring the support was for the hike, but I noticed early on that there were some pretty derogatory and mocking comments.”
Ms Mehboob said she reported comments to the group administrator and they had since been deleted, while Mr Mota said the group administrator had been in contact to confirm he was blocking and deleted comments.
He added that thousands more have followed Muslim hikers on social media since Christmas Day, when they have also received offers of financial support.
âThe majority of people will just find additional motivation and think ‘actually, you know what? Stuff them, âMota said.
âSome of these comments were very rude. However, after sharing these comments, we had such an overwhelming response in terms of solidarity from the community at large.
âIn a positive way, it gave us the opportunity to really call that type of behavior. “