Friday 28 October 2016

Athletic club drops cross from its crest over Isil fears weeks before Dublin Marathon

Hackers' threat leads Crusaders to temporarily alter their singlets ahead of Dublin Marathon

Published 16/10/2016 | 02:30

An athletic club has decided to temporarily remove a cross emblem from its crest on new sportswear after its website was attacked by someone claiming to represent so-called Islamic State.

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The Crusaders Athletic Club wrote to members last week telling them that a decision had been taken to remove the cross from new singlets to be worn by some runners competing in the Dublin City Marathon in two weeks.

The decision to remove the cross from the crest caused major disquiet among members of the Dublin club, with some threatening to leave if the logo is changed.

In an email sent to members, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, the club said a final decision had not been taken to change the crest but it would be discussed at the annual general meeting.

"As some of you may or may not have heard, our website was hacked (twice) by persons unknown purporting to be from Islamic State and threatening messages sent to us," it said.

"The second attack pretty much wiped the site out. The committee has a responsibility to discuss and take measures to protect the club and a lot of time and energy was spent trying to figure out how best to deal with this."

The email said the cyber attack led to a "wider debate" about the club's identity and there was also a discussion by the organisation's committee about changing its name due to the religious and historic association with the Christian crusades of the middle ages.

"Threats have to be taken seriously and although any real danger is unlikely, it was decided that as an interim measure and as a compromise to some views in the committee to temporarily suspend the use of the cross logo until the proposal could be put to the members at the AGM," it added.

The club is the latest in a line of sporting organisations to discuss changing their names due to historic associations.

The Washington Redskins have been under pressure for years to change their name as it is seen as offensive to native Americans.

The Exeter Chiefs rugby union club in the UK faced similar calls to change their name and logo due to offence it causes.

In 2009, the Middlesex Crusaders cricket club changed their name to the Middlesex Panthers after complaints from Jewish and Muslim communities about the link to the crusades.

Jihadi terror group Isil regularly brands US-led military action against its strongholds in Iraq and Syria as attacks by "western crusaders" against Muslim communities.

The Crusaders Athletic Club, which is Dublin's biggest running club, is a non-religious organisation and members stress that its name has no direct association with the crusades in the Middle East.

It is understood that the majority of the runners in the club are in favour of retaining the club logo and name.

Organisers expect almost the entire team that it has entered in the Dublin City Marathon to wear older singlets which include the cross crest rather than the new ones ordered following the alleged attack on its website by Isis.

A Crusaders spokesman said there has been many versions of the club's singlet since the organisation's formation.

"Some have displayed the club's emblem and some have not," he said.

"This year we will have over 50 runners competing in the Dublin Marathon, each wearing a singlet of their choosing. Many will display the official club crest."

The club has recently modernised its website to include new features and mobile optimisation. It said this was a scheduled and planned upgrade.

"Crusaders AC has no religious affiliations and is proud to have one of the largest memberships in Ireland," the spokesman added.

"Our history is one of inclusivity and openness and we celebrate the diversity that comes with being a modern athletic club."

Sunday Independent

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