Wednesday, August 4News For London

Anti-Muslim attacks rise after Brexit vote

The presence of hate crime in Muslim communities and the UK’s plan to fight injustice

When 29-year-old Marwa Khalifa was walking home one day, what happened to her was something she had never thought she would experience. “I was in the underground on my way back home, and then comes a guy walking past me and he hit me hard in my leg with his hand. I was about to fall. When I looked at him he smiled and said ‘ out with your veil.’ It was my first time to experience something like that.”

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Courtesy of Marwa Khalifa

Ms. Khalifa, an Egyptian journalist based in London, said that the situation after Brexit became harsher as to how people react when they see a Muslim individual, who stays true to his or her religion and traditions.

And she’s not alone. Britain is in the middle of an epidemic of hatred and bigotry. Barely a day goes by without the police authorities telling us about the rise of criminal bigotry occurring throughout the country.

Reports have shown that the levels of crime towards ethnic minorities have been bad for years, but it has become even worse ever since Britain decided to quit the EU.

 

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Research for dispatches on channel 4.

It was not until September did the number of crimes fall below 100. (Tell MAMA)

Police and London-based think tank institutes such as the Institute of Race Relations, a charity organization that works closely with anti-Muslim hate-crime monitoring group Tell Mama, said that attacks against minorities have risen in recent weeks. Britain in 2016 seems to indicate a state that is rife with racism and prejudice towards its foreign Muslim populace.

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The statistics are just as frightening as they reveal the majority of abuse and physical attacks were directed towards Muslims. The Institute of Race Relations has recorded the number of hate crimes, which can be motivated by hostility based on race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or transgender identity, according to the Crime Prosecution Service or CPS.

The charity investigated 134 hate-crime incidents reported in the press, following Britain’s vote to leave the 28-nation bloc. Its research found that Muslims were targeted in 30 cases, while 28 other incidents involved people from Eastern Europe. The survey found 93 of the cases reviewed involved a white perpetrator, while two other people were listed as black and in 39 cases the ethnic background was unknown.

Politicians and institutes in Britain often state that the UK is ‘highly tolerant’ of those with different faiths and beliefs. However, claims of British tolerance are not entirely true, especially when statistics show, that post-Brexit hate incidents have risen by a third, according to Tell Mama.

Tell Mama mapped out the following incidents that occurred throughout the country after the Brexit vote in its online anti-Muslim archive.

Based on the reports, we have seen racist, pro Brexit graffiti messages painted on banners outside of high schools in London where a majority of students are Muslims. Muslims based in Nottingham were mistreated on the street with chants of: “Leave Europe. Kick out the Muslims.” A man pushed a Muslim woman into the path of an oncoming train. A Muslim woman also had her Hijab torn off on her way to work in what was a ‘racially and religiously motivated attack.’

Its 2015 annual report, highlighted that the greatest impact of anti-Muslim hatred is being directed at Muslim women, “whose ability to travel and be free from fear and intimidation is being increasingly curtailed” due to the referendum and global terrorist events in the past.

It said in the report that 61 per cent of Islamophobic attacks turn out to be against visible Muslim women.  The report explained incidents that involved Muslim women often occur near public transport areas.

The number of different forms of attacks mosques have suffered since 2013. (Tell MAMA)
The number of different forms of attacks mosques have suffered since 2013. (Tell MAMA)

Sima Kotecha, a reporter from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme said on Twitter that she was in “utter shock” when she was racially abused in her home town of Basingstoke, only days after the EU referendum had concluded. According to Heather Saul of the Independent the incident came as the number of racially motivated hate crimes reported to the police had increased by 57 per cent ever since Britain chose to leave the EU.

 

Tell Mama statistics indicate that 2,317 incidents of anti-Muslim hatred were reported between 1 January and the 31 December 2015 compared with 599 in 2014. One thousand incidents were reported during the first four months of 2016.

The referendum result has had a huge impact on the amount of hate crime Britain has seen. Religious hate crime has risen by over a third since the Brexit result. The number of religious and/or racially aggravated offences recorded by the police has risen 41% compared to last year. (Tell MAMA)

The referendum result has had a huge impact on the amount of hate crime Britain has seen. Religious hate crime has risen by over a third since the Brexit result. The number of religious and/or racially aggravated offences recorded by the police has risen 41% compared to last year. (Tell MAMA)

In Tell Mama’s 2015 annual report Shaid Malik, the chair of Tell Mama, said that the rise of anti-Muslim hatred is a “testament to the fact that despite great efforts to fight anti-Muslim hatred, as a society we are still failing in supporting many of our citizens.” The largest proportion of those committing hate crimes were those aged between 13 and 18. Tell Mama’s findings suggest that some adolescents are being radicalized and are being led astray from normal views of their age group.

Dr. Amir Khneys, expert of Middle East politics and International relations at the University of London explained that the recent surge of hate crimes has become a “disruptive technique to make a political point, or to change the government’s policy.” He added: “Since the government didn’t assess the dangers of anti-Islam incidents, the situation could escalate from contention politic to ‘violent politics, which means a violent reaction from minorities, not only against the countries establishment, but also against the majority of citizens.”

In relation to what could be a possible solution, Dame Louis Casey published a new integration strategy to help bind Britain’s isolated communities together. The former Prime Minister David Cameron asked Ms. Casey to conduct a review and explore what opportunities there are to tackle injustices within the country.

Her solution was an ‘oath of integration’ and more English classes. Although her review on integration examined a variety of different districts within Britain, she targeted Muslim communities in the majority of her report. Her findings suggested that “the number of people identifying themselves as Muslim grew most significantly, by 1.2 million people.” This 72 per cent increase is higher than any other religious group.

The report also found that 46 per cent of British Muslims felt that being a Muslim in Britain was difficult due to prejudice against their religion.

And while Ms. Casey’s solution suggests integration and assimilation to British values, how so, however, is not discussed in the report. The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said, “For too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate and failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great.”

Nigel Farage expressed a similar opinion on Twitter:

On the other hand, a Tell Mama report conducted by Imran Awan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University and Irene Zempi, lecturer in criminology at Nottingham Trent University, has suggested otherwise in 2015.

Their report looked at the impacts of online and offline anti-Muslim hate crimes. They conducted 20 in-depth interviews with Muslim men and women who have been victims of hate crime.

Results suggested that many Muslims live in fear due to the possibility of being attacked, and victims often suffer from anxiety, depression and emotional stress.

The authors of the report gathered suggestions that could better the situation. Among their suggestions were increased community awareness about hate crimes, a more balanced media reporting on Muslim communities, increased diversity in the criminal justice system and improved legal action — “Participants who reported incidents to the police felt that they were not taken seriously,” the report said.

The government strategy to tackle the rise of hate crimes have been set out in an Action Plan by the UK Home Office back in July. The document determines what actions must be taken to tackle hate crime until May 2020. However, the plan will only be reviewed in 2018 “to ensure that the commitments within it are being delivered as expected.”

The Action Plan applies to England and Wales and focuses on five key areas:

  1. Prevention and education
  2. Improving the support system for victims
  3. Better understanding of hate crime incidents
  4. Increasing the reporting of hate crime through an improved reporting process
  5. More effective response to reported hate crimes — including “the introduction of a £2.4m funding scheme for security measures at vulnerable faith institutions, measures to tackle hate crime on public transport and in the night-time economy by providing training, raising awareness and making reporting easier, and establishing three community demonstration projects to explore new ways of tackling hate crime in local communities.”

According to the plan, it is a “partnership between the government, the criminal justice agencies (the Police Service, the CPS, the courts and the National Offender Management Service) and community groups representing those affected by hate crime.”

Whether it will be the government or a variety of organization in the UK that will step up against hate crime, it is up to humanity to accept people for who they are and to not judge others based on their religion and traditions or, in fact, on what they are wearing.

We went to Edgware Road, where the largest Muslim community in London resides, to find out whether British Muslims are worried about an anti-Muslim trend after Brexit. Take a look at the video to see what they said.

(Video: Minghao Gao and Mohammed Helmy)