A WEYMOUTH bar owner has been targeted in a vicious hate campaign.
Death threats and racially abusive comments were made on the social networking site Facebook about Iranian-born Parviz Marseh, owner of Dolce Vita cafe and bar in St Thomas Street.
The comments began with false rumours stating Mr Marseh had banned people from wearing poppies in his venue and escalated into a tirade of abuse.
Dorset Police are investigating after Facebook ‘trolls’ launched the attack against Mr Marseh.
Mr Marseh, who has lived in Weymouth for 20 years and is originally from Iran, was targeted by a number of Facebook users posting offensive language and racial abuse such as ‘go back to your own country’.
One threatened to petrol bomb the bar with him in it.
The abuse began earlier this week when one user started a false rumour that the club was refusing entry to customers because they were wearing Royal British Legion poppies.
Mr Marseh, who is also vice-chairman of Weymouth Pub-watch, said he is sickened.
He said: “The abuse started out of nowhere as a rumour on Facebook, someone said that we weren’t letting people in the club wearing poppies.
“There’s absolutely no truth in it, a lot of the staff wore poppies to work and we were selling them.
“When I looked online people were making racist remarks and violent threats.
“Some of these comments are awful – they’re inciting racism and violence against me.
“I feel victimised. I’ve never been in this situation before.”
Mr Marseh added: “I’ve been in England for 37 years, which is most of my life, and this is the worst attack I’ve had in terms of racism, I’m really surprised and saddened by it.
“Hopefully, the police will get to the bottom of it and take appropriate action.
“It’s affecting my business, I’ve achieved a lot in Weymouth and provide a good service and jobs for a lot of people.
“I feel like packing my case and leaving but I’ve got my family and my staff to look after.
“I employ a lot of people and I pay my taxes, I don’t need this sort of abuse. Stupid comments like this could ruin this place.”
Mr Marseh said it wasn’t fair to target people because of their country of origin.
He added: “Thinking about what these people have said makes me feel sick.
“These are people who I’ve never even met, I don’t know if they’ve ever been in the club.
“Having lived in Weymouth for so long I know that the majority of people are not like this, it’s such a shame that some are.”
A Dorset Police spokesman said “I can confirm this incident has been reported to us.
“The investigation is ongoing.”
Facebook Outlines Its Policy
FACEBOOK says that it does not permit hate speech, bullying, harassment or threats of violence on its site.
It says safety is top priority.
A statement on the site reads: “While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, it is a serious violation to attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”
It adds: “We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals.”
View of chairman
Anne-Marie Vincent, below, is chairman of South West Dorset Multicultural Network. She said: “It’s lamentable, Facebook should be a force for good but it can be pernicious and can cause great harm, which has been documented recently in stories across the country.
“As a social network it’s brilliant but the problem is people put things which they probably wouldn’t say on the phone let alone face to face.
“This takes it to another level, to threaten a person like that, it’s threatening their family and their livelihood – it’s despicable.
“I’m glad the police are investigating because it needs to stop.
“It makes it difficult for people to use the site properly – it’s not there to put forward spite and vile comments. I’m sure they wouldn’t dare say these things to someone’s face.
“At the Multicultural Network we thoroughly applaud the fact that Mr Marseh has gone to the police and hope they can do something about it and get to the root of the problem.”