Surge in anti-Muslim hate crime following recent UK attacks
Islamophobic violence increased fivefold in aftermath of London and Manchester attacks
A family walk past bouquets of flowers left outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London where a van drove into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in the early hours of Monday. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images
Police in Manchester and London registered surges in anti-Muslim hate crime in the immediate aftermaths of the Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge attack.
The number of Islamophobic attacks in Manchester went up fivefold in the week after the concert bombing, with 139 incidents reported to Tell Mama, the group recording Islamophobic crimes, compared to 25 incidents the previous week.
Police chiefs said there had also been a short-term spike in London before this week’s Finsbury Park mosque attack – although precise data is not yet available.
Police forces around the country have stepped up protection for Muslim communities in the wake of the Finsbury Park attack, with the home secretary, Amber Rudd, pledging that the extra resource will remain in place “for as long as it is needed”.
In one case, Naveed Yasin, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon who helped save the lives of people injured in the Manchester attack, was racially abused and labelled a “terrorist” on his way to work at Salford Royal hospital. Other incidents around the country included one involving a woman from Southampton whose veil was ripped from her head, and another involving a man struck with a glass bottle.
Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, of Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said both Manchester and the London Metropolitan police had registered short-term spikes in hate crime. In Manchester, the volume had since returned to the levels seen before the bombing, but the picture in London is still unclear.
“We know that terrorist attacks and other national and global events have the potential to trigger short-term spikes of hate crime,” said Mr Hamilton in a statement before the Finsbury Park attack. “For this reason we have increased the central reporting of hate crimes for police forces so that we can identify trends and assess threats.”
Ms Rudd has said indicative figures suggest that more than half of those who experience hate because of their religion are Muslim. The limited data available appears to suggest an ever-rising level of Islamophobic attacks.
The Met police say the volume of hate crime they record as Islamophobic attacks has increased sharply in the last four years. The force recorded 343 incidents in the 12 months to March 2013, 1,109 in the 12 months to March 2016 and 1,260 in the 12 months to this March.
The Met pointed out that the Finsbury Park attack was not the first act of terrorism against Muslim communities. In 2013 a Ukrainian neo-Nazi, Pavlo Lapshyn, murdered 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem and tried to bomb several West Midlands mosques in the hope of instigating a “race war”. A year later, a neo-Nazi named Ian Forman was jailed for 10 years after plotting to bomb mosques in Merseyside.
The far-right leader Tommy Robinson has been accused of trying to exploit the Finsbury Park attack by referring to it as “a revenge attack”.
There is growing evidence of a rising trend in far-right activity in Britain. A quarter of all referrals to the counter-extremism programme Prevent now involve concerns about individuals involved in far-right groups. The number of far-right extremist suspects referred to Channel, the de-radicalisation element of Prevent, has more than trebled, from 172 in 2012-13 to 561 in 2015-16.
Last December, National Action became the first far-right extremist group to be banned by the home secretary under counter-terrorist proscription legislation.
The latest Home Office figures for terror-related arrests showed that 113 white people were arrested in the 12 months to March 2017, compared with 68 the previous year – an increase of 66 per cent. The Home Office statistics make no distinction between those involved in far-right groups or white Muslim converts.
The figures show 16 per cent of terror-related arrests were for “domestic terrorism” as opposed to “international terrorism”, as Isis-related attacks are described.
– Guardian service