SHAFAQNA- A man who tweeted about stopping a Muslim woman in the street yesterday, challenging her to “explain Brussels”, and lambasted on Twitter for his comments, has responded to the criticism today, insisting he is not some ‘far right merchant’.
Matthew Doyle, partner at a south London-based talent & PR agency, posted a tweet on Wednesday morning saying: “I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.”
He was later arrested.
His tweet referred to yesterday’s bomb attacks on the Belgian capital’s main airport and Metro system that left at least 34 people dead and 198 injured. His comment went viral, being retweeted hundreds of times before he eventually deleted it.
Mr Doyle told the Telegraph he had no idea his tweet would be the “hand grenade” it has proven to be – and that Twitter’s 140 character limit made the encounter sound vastly different to how he thought it went.
“What everyone’s got wrong about this is I didn’t confront the woman,” he said. “I just said: ‘Excuse me, can I ask what you thought about the incident in Brussels?'”
“She was white, and British, wearing a hijab – and she told me it was nothing to do with her.
“I said ‘thank you for explaining that’ – and her little boy said goodbye to me as we went out separate ways.”
On Wednesday afternoon, he says, someone who’s been outraged by his comments “turned up at my door, gave me a load of abuse and tried to throw a punch at me.”
As for his more inflammatory tweets, Mr Doyle claims they’re intended as a joke, which people who know him would understand as “that’s absolutely not who I am.”
“I’m not some far-right merchant, I’m not a mouthpiece for any kind of racism or radicalism,” he says. “If I was xenophobic I wouldn’t live in London.
“I have a Muslim neighbour who got burgled, and I was one of the first people to go around to help.”
However, he says he does believe Muslims aren’t doing enough to speak out against terrorism.
“The horror that happened in Brussels could happen here,” he adds, “and your naive if you think London isn’t on some terror shortlist.”
“Croydon” quickly became a trending topic follwing Mr Doyle’s post as scores of people bombarded the Twitter with replies and retorts.