By Abu Sahid:
Faith leaders from Tower Hamlets say they are “deeply concerned” by the sharp rise in Islamophobia. The London Muslim Centre said government needs to do more to stop this and support Muslim organisations in the community.
A Home Office report published last week said hate crime has increased dramatically in the last year compared to figures from previous years. It highlights a steep rise in the number of hate crimes motivated by religion and said that 52% of crimes were targeted at Muslims. The latest set of data showed overall hate crimes increased by 17% and reached a record high of 94,098 compared to 42,225 in 2012 when statistics were first introduced.
Definition of hate crime is ‘any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on personal characteristics’. Religion is one of the five strands monitored by the Home Office.
Hate crimes motivated by the victims sexual orientation made up 12%, religious hate crimes 9%, disability hate crimes 8% and transgender hate crimes 2%. The Home Office report said that some offences had more than one motivating factor. For example, a person can be attacked for race and religion.
The increase over the last year is thought to be both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of EU referendum and due to improvements in crime recording by the Home Office. The annual report noted that there were spikes in hate crimes following the brexit vote in 2016 and terrorist attacks last year, such as London Bridge, Borough Market, Westminster Bridge and Manchester arena.
Dilowar Khan, Director of Community Engagement at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel said, “It is very apparent that hatred against Muslims has been increasing year on year. It is alarming that half of all religious hate crimes victims are Muslims. This is a very serious matter for society. The government needs to do more to stop all forms of hatred as this is against both human and British values.” Speaking to Asian Voice he said, “These crimes will continue to rise as brexit concludes coupled with the predicted economic slowdown, Muslims will again be targeted.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out” and that “hate crimes goes against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect. Our refreshed action plans set out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crimes victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”
The Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement that the response was “ineffective and called for “meaningfull” action against rising islamophobia. It highlighted recent incidents such as punish a Muslim day letters and a man attempting to murder a Muslim woman and a 12 year old school girl in revenge for terror attacks.
In the same week the government announced its action plan and how it will support victims. The new initiatives include a review of legislations to broaden the definition of hate crime and extra funding to support communities and improving response to incidents. In addition, a public awareness campaign will be launched later this autumn, which is designed to educate the public about hate crime.
The Home Office also said support to religious institutions vulnerable to hate attacks will be extended for a year and an extra £1.5 million will be made available to groups that support young people to challenge prejudice and hatred. There will also be ministerial roundtable discussions on Islamophobia and anti Semitism.