How to stop anti-Muslim hatred: report, challenge and educate

We need to build awareness of what a hate crime is to ensure victims speak out


A recent report by Tell MAMA UK explores the offline and online impacts of anti-Muslim hatred. As a result of the discrimination, victims suffer from depression, emotional stress, anxiety and fear. This is simply unacceptable in Britain in 2015 and if we don’t stand up to it now, our society will be further polarised by this and other pernicious forms of extremism.

Let’s call anti-Muslim hatred what it is. It’s extremism. Prejudice, purely on the basis of faith, is extremism, regardless of whether it is violent or not. Just as extremism paves the way for terrorism, online anti-Muslim hatred creates an atmosphere for violence.

Tell MAMA’s report states that those subjected to online hate live in fear of the online threats ‘materialising in the real world’. In order to prevent violent anti-Muslim hatred, it needs to be curtailed earlier in the process, at the online stage.

Criticising Islam is fine. It’s a religion, an idea, and no ideas should be beyond scrutiny. Restricting someone’s freedom to express their views on a religion is against the human rights we stand for. However, online or offline hatred that attacks people on a personal level, rather than scrutinising a religion, is not acceptable.

If all Muslims are approached as if they were extremists, they may seek refuge among extremist organisations who tap into the polarised atmosphere set by anti-Muslim mood music.

In this way anti-Muslim hate crimes can lead vulnerable people directly into the hands of extremist recruiters who encourage and exploit this grievance, thus aggravating the very issue of radicalisation that we are trying to avert.

Conversely, to prevent Islamists exploiting it to radicalise others, wider British civil society must stand up to anti-Muslim hatred and play its part in integrating people of all backgrounds.

Hate crimes hinder the public image of counter-extremism by unintentionally creating the façade that Islam, rather than Islamism, is being opposed. Counter-extremism tackles radicalisation and extremism and is opposed to those who commit or support ideologically-motivated intolerance, violent or otherwise, to further political aims.

Today’s announcement that the structures the police use to handle cases of anti-Muslim hate are improving is a great start, but let’s also build awareness of what a hate crime actually is. As a result of it, victims and wider society will confidently be able to identify and report the crimes.

Muslim communities need to feel safe, confident and reassured that these injustices will be responded to. Give these people a voice and it will without doubt be a pro-Britain, pro-human rights song that they will sing.

However, just as reporting Islamist extremism to the authorities is not the single solution to preventing radicalisation, so too must we try to intervene earlier to prevent anti-Muslim hate. Instead of focusing on offline violence, let’s also look at challenging online incidents.

Just as we would not stay silent about online racism or homophobia, let’s speak out against online anti-Muslim hatred. Furthermore, we must ensure the alternative narratives of those silenced by extremists are allowed to flourish and contest the social media echo chambers currently dominated by the discriminators.

And let’s intervene even earlier than that with a proactive educational response. We should defend the right to freedom from discrimination and the rights for people to practise their own religion or wear religious attire.

We are all entitled to these freedoms, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexuality, and that message needs to get to all young people before extremist narratives take hold.

To tackle anti-Muslim prejudice seriously we must make sure no-one confuses the religion of Islam with the political ideology of Islamist extremism. Education must be the cornerstone of any preventative policy if we are to make a better future for our children free from the mistakes their parents once made.

Jonathan Russell is a political liaison officer and Rachel Bryson is a researcher, both at Quilliam

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17 Responses to “How to stop anti-Muslim hatred: report, challenge and educate”

  1. blarg1987

    Rape crimes should be reported as rape crimes and it does not matter of race, religion or colour.

    Otherwise you will be going down the road of Christian hate crimes for child abuse the church has done etc.

  2. Mark

    In the TellMAMA report here was one moan about Anjem Choudhary, but nothing regarding
    other speakers who get on TV and tell everyone that there is no problem,
    when we all know there is.
    Part of the solution is to recognise this and work together.
    wish the people interviewed (and TellMAMA), would refrain from the use
    of “revert.” It has connotations to everyone else, and maybe that isn’t
    The interviewees seemed to be at the “more devout” end, and
    what was left out was Muslim on Muslim abuse, which does occur. Does
    TellMAMA only care about the devout?
    There might have been some support for anti-extremism groups, but I saw none.
    was interesting to see how many times “online and offline” was repeated
    in the TellMAMA report – probably based on the criticism they got from
    Gilligan last time, where nothing was split out.
    Also, the vast
    majority of the report was about online (which is probably why they did
    that), and some of the quotes from interviewees was either personal
    experience of heightened online abuse after a “trigger” or their
    already-read knowledge of previous TellMAMA reports, which tells them
    what can happen in those circumstances.

    And we had one interviewee do the big “BUT”
    regarding the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. “I don’t support the killings, but
    I get offended if Muhammed is insulted,” and by implication, “why don’t
    people realise this?” The thing here is that the “love of Muhammed,”
    always said after people have been killed for cartoons or books, is
    really, really problematic. But it’s they who don’t seem to realise
    this. That creates a real clash.
    Plus, I suppose all interviewees
    have to be believed (“houses being burned down”(???)), but I might have
    preferred actual reported events or events that had convictions.

    Would I abuse a Muslim for being Muslim? No.
    Would I step in to stop an attack on a Muslim? Yes.
    Would I criticise a TellMAMA report? Yes.
    Would I get called an Islamophobe for what I have written? Probably.

    Some is right in report, but very obvious. There has always been racism, and some have used that in a new way.

    has always been “social media” in one way or another since the internet
    came into our homes, and there has always been abuse. It’s Twitter that
    has highlighted this, and therefore makes it seem like a new thing,
    when it’s not.

  3. Jay Dillon

    Koran is poisonous to democratic rights and freedoms. If you cannot see this simple fact, you shouldn’t be a political commentator.

  4. Jon Jones.

    (1) Stop Islamic extremism

    Fair point but Christian extremism has a pretty shitty record too.

    (2) Stop jihadi extremism in our society.

    Hard to argue with you on that point but I think you are over estimating the “extremism”

    (3) Stop grooming gangs

    Who are these “grooming gangs” and how do you suggest we “stop” them?

    (4) Stop hostility and aggression from Muslims towards non Muslims

    I’m 45 years old and have never ever come across any “aggression from Muslims towards non Muslims”

    (5) Stop all sharia courts and demands for sharia law

    Sharia courts have no legal meaning the UK and there are no plans to change the situation.

    (6) Stop demanding special privileges for Islam

    There are no “special privileges for Islam” Islam is a religious philosophy, a way of thinking. You cant give rights to thoughts.

    (7) Stop promoting a culture of hatred for kuffar

    I have never met a single person that does that. I doubt that you have ever met someone like that either.

    (8) Stop shoving Islam down the throats of everyone in society endlessly

    Again, I have to meet someone who is “shoving Islam down the throats of everyone”

    (9) Stop being hypocritical and making demands of non Muslim society that you don’t reciprocate

    Nobody is doing that

    (10) That’s how to end ‘anti-Muslim’ animus.

    No. it isn’t

    (11) Stop being a twat.

  5. Jay Dillon

    How to stop Muslims: Report, challenge, and educate.

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