SHAFAQNA – The Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, attended the Finsbury Park Mosque’s ‘Hate Crime Against Muslim Women’ event at the start of this week. The MP for Islington North categorically condemned the rise in violence against Muslim women, and especially the high visibility targets who wear head coverings such as the hijab and niqab in Britain. Mr Corbyn also rounded on the right wing media for its role in spreading Islamophobic hatred which leads to individual and community conflict after hearing the first-hand accounts of hate crimes from Muslim women themselves.
The event was part of Hate Crime Awareness Week and dubbed by the organisers as a ‘listening exercise’ to kick-start a much broader campaign to tackle racism and Islamophobia. The meeting attracted a full-house, with hundreds of people in attendance, leaving only standing room in the hall. Members of the local community, councillors, politicians, police officers, and a number of local and national media outlets listened sympathetically to the experiences of Muslim women who had been attacked in a variety of horrific hate crimes ranging from psychological and verbal abuse to physical violence.
Statistics bear out the testimonies of victims with recent figures released by the Mayor of London’s Office highlighting a fivefold increase in Islamophobic attacks in the aftermath of the alleged terror atrocity at London Bridge, and also a 40% increase in racist incidents, compared with the daily average this year. The increase in recorded Islamophobic incidents after the London Bridge attacks is also much greater than it was after the 2013 murder of Lee Rigby in London – another evidently terror-related killing; carried out by what some allege was the crazed act of a mentally disturbed individual and what ultra sceptical individuals on social media speculate to be a false flag security services operation.
The British media reports that the nature of this rise in hate crime is also different from last year after the Brexit vote according to police sources. Recorded hate crime rose to 54 incidents a day versus a daily average of 38 for 2017. Metropolitan police figures covering London have shown that recorded crime where an anti-Muslim motive was identified reached 20, while the daily average for 2017 was under four. However according to social activists “these statistics are only the tip of the iceberg as most crimes go unreported because Muslims simply do not want to be spotlighted the police under the current climate created by the governments counter terror policies which many feel are targeting the whole Muslim community in Britain and not just violent religio- political extremists.
During the event a lively range of questions was posed to a distinguished panel of speakers which also included – Richard Watts, Lead of Islington Council; Colin Adams, chair of Islington Hate Crime Forum; Ragad Altikriti, senior member of The Muslim Association of Britain; Treena Fleming, Detective Superintendent of Islington; Lead for Safeguarding for Central North Board; Rev. Jennifer Potter, Chair of Islington Faiths Forum; Councillors Rakhia Ismail and Andy Hull.
Police representatives and councillors spoke about the need to increase resources and promised to look into making the process of reporting hate crimes more accessible. Jeremy Corbyn also said there was “a need to unite together as a community” and he responded to the concerns of attendees about the role of the media in promoting hate speech by saying ‘they must be made more accountable for their words’ even if it meant introducing new legislation.
Mohammad Kozba, Chair of the Finsbury Mosque Committee said ” the event was a resounding success and one which we already planning to follow up with a seminar bringing together academics to address the hate crime against Muslim women in even more depth”. The Finsbury Park Mosque has already received positive feedback and said its audience found it “overwhelmingly positive in fostering a real sense of support for victims and it demonstrated how important the issue is on a local level.”
The meeting concluded with Mr Corbyn, the Chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, community leaders from Islington Council and police officers signing a “pledge” to tackle hate crime in the borough.