Yes, anti-Muslim hate crime really did spike last year

Tell MAMA's Fiyaz Mughal gives the lowdown on the state of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK.

Tell MAMA’s Fiyaz Mughal gives the lowdown on a new report into anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK

There has been much debate recently on the accuracy of hate crime recording and that’s an important debate to have.

Yet no matter on which side of the fence you stand, I would suggest it evident that something happened to hate crime figures immediately after the murder of Lee Rigby last year.

That something is many more recorded attacks against Muslims, and many investigated reports of Islamophobic hate crimes.

The facts stand out regarding the number of mosque attacks that took place after the murder of Lee Rigby, with over 30 mosques suffering attacks from graffiti through to nail bombs that failed to go off in the West Midlands in mid-2013 – placed by the Ukrainian neo-Nazi, Pavlo Lapshyn. A timeline of these mosque attacks can be found here.

Information from a Freedom of Information request made to access police data indicates that there was a 458 per cent increase in Islamophobic hate crimes in the two weeks after the murder of Lee Rigby compared to the previous year. This of course is amongst those forces that record such hate crime – many don’t have an ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘anti-Muslim’ hate crime category – an issue in itself.

In London, the MPS also confirmed an increase to 113 cases in May and June 2013, compared to 22 in April of the same year.

And while a recent independent report notes that Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) has made successful efforts to further improve anti-Muslim hate crime reporting standards, detractors, who simply choose to disregard or digest the facts, continue to spin the nonsensical narrative that Islam is not a race and that nobody can be prejudicial to Islam – despite the fact that our work directly deals with anti-Muslim prejudice and hate and bigotry aimed at individuals and faith institutions, like mosques.

Furthermore, our reports over the last two years, which can be found here and here, highlight the volume of anti-Muslim hate online which percolates on a daily basis; and our work separates and looks at the on-line and off-line world of anti-Muslim hate through incidents reported in.

If such critics still believe in the face of evidence – whether that evidence is official Police data or the data collected by Tell MAMA – that such hate crime is an overblown figment of the imagination then, unfortunately, there is a limit to how effective such debates could be. You may even be forgiven for thinking that there are some out there who are seeking to silence such discussions.

Yet, just as data is important to wrestle over, it’s also important to move the discussion forwards. Hate crime is more than just numbers, both for the victims and for the perpetrators. Being attacked by another, solely on the basis of who you are, is a deeply traumatic experience and in many cases can lead to a torturous sense of self-doubt and even to feelings of guilt within the victim.

Research on the impacts of LGBT hate crimes on victims have found that such trauma does not only stay with the victim long after the event, but that it ripples out across peer groups. When looking at the impacts of anti-Muslim hate crime on women, a similar psychological impact is found.

None of this should be surprising as we are talking of real people with real, legitimate, emotional responses.

Anti-Muslim hate crime is also about symbolism. The desecration of any place of worship is inexcusable in itself, yet an attack on a mosque is more than the razing of a building or the breaking of glass, it’s a way of passing on a troubling message to an entire community. It’s an attacker’s way of making sure that community understands that it is not welcome, it’s also a way of leaving a lasting concern amongst members of that community that any one of them could be next.

So to try to exclaim ‘It’s only a mosque’ or to suggest, as some do, that the fear that such individuals experience when they or a member of their community is attacked may simply be a symptom of some global culture of victimhood, or anything less than as real and understandable, is to do an immense disservice. I’d suggest that being scared when you, your friend or even your place of worship is attacked is more than a reasonable response.

Those who have been following the debates may be aware that another common line of argument made by some of the most vocal critics seeking to deny that anti-Muslim hate crime is a real problem worth fighting centres on the level of online anti-Muslim hate that is reported to us.

Online hate is a new field and it’s a difficult one to navigate, but it is safe to say that online hate is often more than trolling.

It’s the stalking and sexually harassing of a 15 year old girl over the course of several weeks. It’s the public declaration of an intention, a method and timing to burn down a mosque as well as the posting of posts a woman’s personal address and making public invitations to ‘kick [her husband’s] ****ing head in’.

These are just some of the deeply troubling reports that are reported to us.

Of course, to those who believe the Twittersphere is a meaningless illusion, then these examples might not mean much, but Tell MAMA’s service users do find them relevant enough and traumatic enough to report in. It’s therefore the duty of all of us to recognise and acknowledge this trauma and to work – together – to end it.

The report is based on data published by Teeside University’s Centre of Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-Fascist studies which analysed 734 cases of anti-Muslim hate crime between May 1, 2013, and February 28, 2014. Of those, 599 incidents took place online and 135 took place on the street

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7 Responses to “Yes, anti-Muslim hate crime really did spike last year”

  1. treborc1

    People get angry at seeing a young dead soldier on the ground and two morons screaming Jihad, we are worried when we hear of Pakistan and seeing the treatment of Christians or other faiths ,and then ISIS and seeing and hearing 500 of our young Muslim are fighting and when they come back will it carry on.

    I’m sorry but although I do not feel any anger to any people, I’m not a fan of the Muslim faith at all.

    We in the UK can take a lot and we do not get angry but the issue about the people leaving here to fight for what I call a Muslim terrorist group and see those pratt’s from Cardiff .

    When the Riots happened in London a few years ago I saw so did many more, a group of Muslim with pickaxe handles protecting their mosque if I did that at a church the police would have moved in taken the weapons away and some of us may have been arrested with those people it was seen as hero’s .

    I’m not not angry of Muslims, but I need to hear people come out in a bigger proportion then we are seeing now to condemn and people who go to fight wars in other countries, should be left in that country I do not want them here.

    Right now I’m not angry at anyone well except politicians, but that can change and I’m sure others feel the same but I can understand people being worried .

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    You completely missed lots of groups standing firm during the riots, it seems.

    And right, so what – let’s hear the detailed proposal…how would you decide to strip people’s citizenships? How will you comply with international laws on stateless people?

    I see more of the same old scapegoating, frankly, which is part and parcel of hate crime’s rise. If people commit crimes, they should be prosecuted, but people should not be persecuted for crimes of another member of their community.

    Or should all British White Males be blamed for the recent convictions for Rolph Harris?

  3. Kay

    I wouldn’t criticise the police too much for failures to record specific ‘anti-muslim’ hate crimes, because there are very real practical difficulties here. For starters, islamaphobic perpetrators aren’t very good at distinguishing between sikhs, hindus and muslims. Let’s say that abusive anti-muslim graffitti has been daubed on a sikh gurdwara and is reported as a hate crime. Who is the victim? The sikh community or the muslim community? Or both? And if it’s both, the same incident would have to be recorded twice. And that means duplication in the crime figures. . . .

    But that’s by the by, and just goes to show another reason for under reporting of anti muslim crimes. .

    Much as online hatred is frightening, harrowing and intimidating, the perpetrators rely on their ability to remain anonymous and out of sight. There are already criminal offences to cover things like threats to kill, sending abusive telecommunications etc. Physical (as opposed to online) hate crimes are a different kettle of fish: perpetrators are present, powerful and pose an immediate threat; they tend to choose vulnerable victims and easy visible targets –
    children, women and the elderly. To my mind, physical hate crimes should be the first priority and we should not be distracted by the need to “do something” about the anonymous saddos on social media.

  4. Mike Stallard

    I am 75 years old.
    When I was 50 even, Moslems were not targeted. Why do you imagine that things have changed?
    Could it be the utterly contemptible behaviour of some Muslims? 9/11, Madrid bombings, Boko Haram, Rigby, 7/7, ISIS? Then all the shenanigans in Peterborough and Rochdale. (I haven’t even started on the list of atrocities through the world, have I.)
    Also there are the Muslims who seem loudly determined to replace our Common Law with Shari’a.
    I am a Christian myself and have been taught to turn the other cheek. I am now in a small minority. So I am very much afraid that the polarization, which is increased by things like Tower Hamlets elections and the Trojan Horse idea, is going to get worse and worse and (I hate this) Enoch Powell’s prophesy will come true.

  5. Guest

    You purvey hate, as you try and make Powell’s call for acting against Britain come true? Well well. You equate Islam and Islamism, showing yourself to be little better than the islamists from the word go as far as I’m concerned.

    You *are* the polarisation, as you lash out against things like the Arbitration Act (of course, much of the far right’s real target there is the Jewish Beis Din, but that’s another story), etc.

    Christians? Christian terrorism is not a new story. Or the Pope and Hitler, etc.
    The problem is fanaticism, not religion.

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