In a appalling allegation of racism, the founder of a Muslim hikers’ group has said that it faced “shocking” online abuse since making an appearance on Countryfile.
Haroon Mota from Coventry participated in an outdoor arts event that was filmed on Scafell Pike in September for the BBC special shown recently.
He recruited over 200 volunteers to take part in the event.
A Countryfile spokesperson expressed shock over the allegation saying, “The countryside is for everyone, so we’re saddened to hear of this.
“Countryfile has a proud record of celebrating the nation’s shared love of hiking.”
The Muslim Hikers group members were present among several hundreds who went to England’s highest mountain for filming of the Green Space Dark Skies project.
“Unfortunately we have received an overwhelming amount of abuse online, a lot of racism,” Mota was quoted as saying by the BBC. “It’s something we have had before in the past and it’s unfortunate that it’s happening again.
“The reason why we set up Muslim Hikers was so we can create a community where people feel safe, a community where people can thrive… and hike confidently.
“It’s a shame that we receive abuse occasionally, but this type of abuse only gives us the reasoning and the justifications for why we existed in the first place.”
The hikers’ group goes to locations across the UK on monthly walks. It was formed by Mota during the Covid-19 pandemic and it attracted several outdoor enthusiasts and has nearly 24,000 Instagram followers, according to him.
Previously, too, the group has received online abuse after pictures of a hike were posted on virtual platforms.
“Twenty years ago, when I started hiking, this seemed so strange that there was a lack of people looking like me. People of colour, black people, ethnic minorities, we just didn’t see them in the outdoors,” Mota said on Countryfile.
“Over the years, as I built my passion for the outdoors, I felt like I wanted to do something to encourage more of our guys to get outside.”