A POLITICAL activist targeted by extremists has hit out at far-right groups for dividing communities at a time when solidarity is most needed.
Prominent anti-fascist and anti-cuts campaigner Lawrie Coombs was recently singled out by EDL splinter group The North East Infidels (NEI).
A member of the anti-Islamic group recently made an incendiary Facebook post urging other NEI members to look-out for Mr Coombs, referred to as “scum”.
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The anonymous poster – who calls himself an Islamic assassin and goes under the pseudonym Vick Toryagainstislam – refers to “payback” before listing Mr Coomb’s personal details, including his photograph, phone numbers, home town and political views.
Mr Coombs believes he was targeted because of his prominence in leftist activist groups such as the Teesside Solidarity Movement (TSM).
He said: “I feel personally threatened by this but when you’re out there campaigning for a better society, you often get these kinds of people on your back.
“History is full of divide and rule and these groups divide the community at a time when we need to be united in order to fight government cuts, defend public services and build better communities.
“They pretend to be the voice on the streets but they speak for nobody but themselves.
“A community full of hate and division, like the one they promote, becomes an ugly place.
“A community that stands together in solidarity is one that can go forward to improve the lives of everyone.”
He added: “TSM realise there are impressionable and confused people out there and we’d urge them to leave these groups and work with people like us to defend their community and build a better place for everyone.”
The news comes as figures from Cleveland Police show online abuse is on the rise.
Superintendent Ian Coates said: “As the use of social media becomes more prevalent, communication between people, including those of opposing political views, will naturally increase.
“In the majority of cases, this simply means an opportunity to express their views and to debate or exchange these views with others in a reasonable and legitimate discussion.
“Unfortunately some people may choose to use social media to make threats against or harass others and we would always advise anyone who feels they are being threatened via social media (or by more traditional means) to report their concerns to police.”
The NEI were unavailable for comment.
For more information about TSM, visit facebook.com/teessidesolidaritymovement