Rule #1 of Twitter: if you’re harbouring doubts about posting that 3am tweet — it’s probably not Nietzsche, and you should keep it to yourself.
And yet at 3:40 a.m. on Tuesday, 32-year-old Gary Hyland reportedly broke convention — and the law — by posting a racist tweet aimed at Liverpool star forward Mohamed Salah. Hyland, an Everton fan, admitted sending the tweet in court on Friday, after being arrested for a racially-aggravated public order offence.
The Liverpool Echo reports that Hyland posted the tweet depicting Salah, a practicing Muslim, in a Liverpool top superimposed with a suicide vest and a pressure point detonator, according to prosecutor Sophie Leyland.
He allegedly followed that with an image of Liverpool fans praying to Allah.
The police immediately treated the incident as a hate crime — and arrested Hyland two days later.
Police investigating after a racist post was made on social media about #LFC's Mohamed Salah & shared by others. @MerseyPolice: “Hate crime in any guise will not be tolerated and those who use the Internet to target others... need to understand that they are not beyond the law.” pic.twitter.com/XNw0Cp2CQS— BBC Merseyside (@bbcmerseyside) August 7, 2019
Hyland was charged under a racially aggravated public order offence. He also allegedly threatened to spit and kick the officers who came to his home in Waterloo in Merseyside — and so was also charged with obstruction.
The court granted him conditional bail after he admitted the offences, and ordered him not to access social media until he returns to court at the end of the month.
Liverpool and Everton are local rivals, but both clubs condemned the post.
“Everton condemns in the strongest terms any kind of racism,” a club statement read.
“We have shared the material with the appropriate authorities and are looking into the matter further to understand if the twitter user in question is known to the club in any way.”
Since Salah joined Liverpool, one academic paper published in May suggested that Islamophobia has actually dropped across Merseyside.
The paper surveyed 8,060 Liverpool supporters, investigated 936 hate crimes from 25 police departments in the region, and examined 15 million tweets sent from football fans in the UK.
It found an 18.9% drop in hate crime — while anti-Muslim tweets fell by half, from 7.2% to 3.4%.
Liverpool kick off their Premier League campaign on Friday at home to Norwich City — at the very respectable time of 8.p.m (home by 11; harmlessly asleep by midnight.)