In Brief

UK Islamophobic incidents rise 600% since Christchurch shooting

Muslim community warns government must do more to tackle hate crime before ‘long-term issues develop’

Islamophobic incidents in the UK have risen by nearly 600% since the Christchurch terror attacks, prompting calls from the Muslim community for the government to do more to tackle hate crime.

In the week after the New Zealand massacre, in which 50 people lost their lives, 95 incidents were reported to the charity Tell Mama, which records and measures anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK.

This represents a 593% rise from the week before and of these, 85 incidents used “languages, symbols or actions” directly referencing the Christchurch attacks, including gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims.

It came after an alleged terror incident linked to the Christchurch massacre, attacks on mosques in Birmingham and several arrests over online statements.

The Independent notes that “the 593% week-on-week rise is higher than that seen after the 2017 Manchester bombing, which was cited as an inspiration for Finsbury Park attacker Darren Osborne to plough a van into Muslims leaving prayers”.

Speaking to The Metro, Tell Mama called on the government to “take concerted action through education, the criminal justice system, restorative justice and other means” to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice before “a long-term issue develops”.

A report released by the charity in 2017 revealed a record number of anti-Muslim attacks and warned of a “marked shift” towards more serious offline incidents like physical attacks, vandalism and abuse, as hatred continues to spread on social media.

Also signalling a shift from Islamic to far-right extremism in the UK, official statistics for 2018 show that 43% of suspected terrorists arrested were white, compared to 32% who were Asian.

The Runnymede Trust race equality think tank has also called on the government to take anti-Muslim prejudice seriously, warning that for far too long the “vulnerability of Muslim communities” had been underestimated by government and public authorities.

“Muslim communities around the UK have long been complaining about the rise of Islamophobia and fears of attacks like this” reports Araw Ibrahim for Al Jazeera.

“This fear isn’t just restricted to the rise of the far right,” she writes; “it’s also about mainstream media outlets reporting inaccurately and unfairly about Muslims; it’s about 31% of schoolchildren thinking Muslims are taking over the UK; it’s about the fact that over 50% of hate crimes in the UK are directed towards Muslims”.

In the wake of the Christchurch attacks, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced an extra £5m would be made available to offer security training to houses of worship.

Javid said that the government would double funds fund available for churches, mosques, temples, and gurdwaras in England and Wales to install alarms and CCTV systems to £1.6m.

The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed the extra money but said the funding “was not proportionate to the risk” that Muslims face.

Police presence around mosques was stepped up ahead of Friday prayers, but “as Ramadan approaches, Muslims will be hyper-visible and will visit mosques in more numbers and more frequently. The funding needs to be increased, it needs to be immediately available and more easily accessible for mosques and other Islamic community centres to apply for”, says Ibrahim.

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