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If you’re not from the United Kingdom, you may never have heard the name ‘Charlene Downes’ before. In England however, her name is known by anyone with an internet connection.

I say ‘internet connection’ advisedly, as the Downes case has been scarcely reported in the mainstream media, and for reasons both contemptible and (sadly) familiar. Her disappearance and ‘alleged’ murder by ‘allegedly’ Muslim groomers in the seaside town of Blackpool in 2003, has since become a rallying point for ‘Islamophobes’ (and ethno-nationalists) across the North of England. The flatlining British National Party have for years featured the Downes case on their website, and have established links with Charlene’s parents. Demonstrations (led by the BNP) have also been held to criticize the police investigation into the case, the mistakes of which have allowed Ms Downes’ killer(s) to remain free.

You might well ask, ‘Why this particular case?”. There are many thousands of Muslim grooming victims in the UK, each case equally horrific. Why does Charlene’s tragedy seem to allow for a special  and lasting vitriol?

To understand this, we must describe exactly what is alleged to have happened.

On Saturday, November the 1st, 2003, Ms Downes departed from her mother near the centre of Blackpool, Lancashire. She was apparently going to meet friends in the amusement arcades. Since that departure, only one or two sightings are reported, and Downes would never be seen again (…at least by her family.)

At the trial of a gang of Muslims in 2007, it was alleged that Ms Downes (14 years old) had been the victim of paedophilic ‘grooming’  for many weeks prior to her disappearance, and that (allegedly) on this occasion the gang responsible had decided to murder her and subsequently dispose of the body.

It is the manner in which the gang are said to have disposed of Ms Downes’ which explains the case’s lasting and sinister notoriety.

Covering the trial in 2007, the Telegraph reported that ‘

‘A witness had heard Albattikhi ( the ringleader) and others talking about Charlene in an alleyway.

“These people were talking about sex with white girls, and there was mention of having sex with Charlene,” he said.

“Albattikhi laughed and said she was very small – the plainest possible indication that he was lying to the police when he said he did not know her. He and others present then laughingly said that Charlene had gone into the kebabs.”

Since no trace of Ms Downes has ever been found, and since Mr Albattikhi ran a fast-food shop, there is every reason not to write this off as a joke. Indeed, it was treated seriously in court, and remains a revolting and yet sadly feasible theory as to Ms Downes’ fate.

Despite the evidence presented, the case was eventually thrown out of court and Charlene’s killers remain at large. The verdict hasn’t changed many peoples minds as to who carried out the killing.

As I said above, the Downes’ case has since been claimed (as a cause) by the ethno-nationalist right. The Counter-Jihad movement should never have allowed this to happen. The BNP association has arguably endangered the case and hindered the pursuit of justice. Since we are now close to the 10 year anniversary of Ms Downes’ disappearance, and given the undeniably gruesome notoriety the case has assumed, perhaps it’s time the movement itself did more to re-contextualize the case and remind people of the larger issue at hand.

More information on this tragic case can be found at the following links: