Whilst the Woolwich attacks were devastatingly shocking and many of us responded with huge amounts of sympathy for the victim and his family, others chose to respond to it with what was described as a tenfold increase of Islamophobic attacks on Muslims.
In response to the attack, many members from the English Defence League took to the streets, which were then met by counter demonstrations. Since the attack occurred in June, thousands of Muslims have been subjected to Islamophobia, in the virtual sphere, in their local communities, and at their places of worship. The rise in Anti-Muslim attacks ranged from online abuse and calls for violence through Twitter and Facebook, personal attacks on individuals on the street and firebombing Masjids and Islamic community centers.
Some of the cases have made the mainstream press. Amongst which were the attacks of several Masjids across the country, the burning down of a cultural center, the pulling of a face veil in Leicester, an attack on a Muslim boy’s boarding school in Chislehurst and more recently the stabbing of two individuals and a police officer in a Birmingham masjid.
Let’s remind ourselves of what Islamophobia actually is? Islamophobia is the fear, hatred or hostility directed towards Islam and/or Muslims. Often, the extreme and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims take shape in the form of hate crime, through personal attacks on individuals and property.
A definition of hate crime is given by the crown prosecution service: ‘Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation’. In this case it is religion and the hate crimes are specifically targeted at Muslims.
We know from our users, how under-reporting hate crime incidents are a problem. One of the reasons why a victim may be less inclined into reporting is because they may not have confidence in the police. For example the victim may be unaware that the police would even be interested. ‘Evidence from the British Crime Survey (2009/10; 2010/11) suggests that over 50 per cent of hate crime incidents go unreported, and therefore the majority of victims will suffer in silence’.
The rise of hate crime has developed as a back lash towards links to Islamic extremism. To tackle the rise of hate crime; communities need integration and this means being able to live amongst others no matter what race or religion and as a result not to single out Muslims and make them feel further isolated. There is also a need for leaders such as politicians to address this issue; all too often they phrase extremism as something linked with Islam or Muslims, mosques or madrasahs. Comments like this lead to a flurry of Islamophobic incidents.
Finally, remember that reporting hate crime makes a huge difference, not only to you but to your community. By reporting hate crime when it happens, you can help stop it happening to someone else. You will also help the police to better understand the level of hate crime in your local area, and improve the way they respond to it.
Remember – Don’t Tolerate It, Report It!
Say NO to hate crime at http://saynotohatecrime.org/report-it