Islamophobia on the rise in Britain

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London, The Arab Weekly – Following a slew of global Islamist terrorist attacks in 2015, Islamophobia is on the rise in Britain, with statistics from London’s police force confirming that report­ed Islamophobic hate crimes in the British capital have nearly doubled over the past two years.

There were 557 Islamophobic hate crimes reported in 2013; 624 in 2014 and 878 as of November 2015, sta­tistics from London’s Metropolitan Police Service revealed, with direct cause and effect between terrorist attacks and Islamophobic incidents.

In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, reported assaults against Muslims in London more than tripled. “It is with regret but something that we have come to re­alise, through experience, that hate crime can increase during these dif­ficult times,” a police spokesman said, adding that London police had increased patrols in areas with a high number of Muslim residents.

Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Mus­lim Attacks), a UK-based group that monitors Islamophobic incidents, has documented the link between terrorist attacks and anti-Muslim hate crimes. It revealed there were 115 reported attacks in the wake of the Paris attacks representing a spike of more than 300%.

“There is a rising trend of Islamo­phobia or anti-Muslim hatred and this is, we believe, partly driven by the media, social me­dia, extremism and terrorism… and we have seen that each time there is a major terrorist inci­dent, there is a very large spike in anti- Muslim preju­dice,” Tell MAMA founder Fiyaz Mughal said.

“Sadly, as long as there is extrem­ism and terrorism, and with some inflammatory media headlines and articles, the ‘background noise’ of anti-Muslim prejudice or hatred will continue.”

A total of 3,254 religiously moti­vated crimes were recorded in Eng­land and Wales in 2014-15, out of a total of 52,528 hate crimes, a 43% increase on the previous year. The large majority of these crimes were against Muslims.

That figure could be much high­er. A recent report by criminolo­gists Imran Awan of Birmingham City University and Irene Zempi of Nottingham Trent University re­vealed that many Muslims do not report incidents of Islamophobic abuse.

The report, published in October, conduct­ed in-depth in­terviews with victims and uncovered “worrying levels of fear and intimidation experienced by many Muslims, compounded by a lack of support from the wider public when facing physical threats in the real world and an absence of tough action from social media platforms at the abuse people are receiving online”.

Even London police acknowl­edged that Islamophobic crimes are under-reported but contended that they are being more reported than they were in the past.

“We are acutely aware that all ar­eas of hate crime are still under-re­ported and we are encouraged that more people feel confident to report racial and religious hate crimes… We believe the increase in Islamo­phobic hate crime is due to a range of factions.

This includes a growing willing­ness of victims to report hate crime [and] an improved awareness of staff in identifying these offences,” a police statement said.

“World events can also contribute to a rise in hate crime.”

Labour Party candidate for Lon­don mayor, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, said he would do more to tackle Is­lamophobia if he becomes mayor. “Every time there is a terrorist in­cident involving evil fanatics who abuse the name of Islam, ordinary, law-abiding Muslims pay a heavy price,” he wrote in an opinion piece in the Guardian.

“We must do more to challenge Islamophobia. As mayor of London, I’ll make tackling hate crimes… a top priority for the Metropolitan police and ensure they get the re­sources they need to make a real dif­ference,” he said.

As for how best to deal with the rise in Islamophobic sentiment, Mughal said: “Education, education and more education.

“We are working in schools to en­sure that young people understand that anti-Muslim prejudice is unac­ceptable.

Just as anti-Semitism is wrong, so anti-Muslim prejudice is also wrong. No-one should be targeted because of their identities.”

“Work in schools is key and this is why training to teachers and educa­tionalists is fundamental,” he add­ed. “This is something that civil so­ciety can do and more groups need to step forward and undertake this work. It is all well and good talk­ing about Islamophobia, the key is about tackling such prejudice whilst ensuring that it is done in partner­ship with other groups.”

This article was originally published here.