Date :Wednesday, July 25th, 2018 | Time : 01:12 |ID: 67536 | Print

Online and offline Islamophobic attacks are on the rise in UK

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SHAFAQNA – In 2017 Tell Mama recorded a total of 1,330 reports. Of these reports, 1,201 were verified as being anti-Muslim or Islamophobic in nature and as having occurred in the UK between January and December.

According to Independent, Islamophobic street attacks are on the rise in the UK as perpetrators feel “emboldened” by terror attacks and political discourse, a report has found.

Tell Mama, a project set up to record Islamophobic hate incidents, recorded a 30% rise in the street incidents last year with more than 1,200 reports verified by the organisation, Chronicle reported.

Also Independent states that Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim incidents in Britain, recorded a 30 per cent rise in street incidents and a 16 per cent rise in 2017, taking the number of verified reports to a record of 1,201.

Marked shift towards more serious offline incidents

The guardian reported the group warned of a “marked shift” towards more serious offline incidents like physical attacks, vandalism and abuse, as hatred continues to spread on social media.

A record number of anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse were reported last year, with women disproportionately targeted by mostly male teenage perpetrators, the monitoring group Tell Mama has said.

Of the victims six out of 10 were women

Of the victims six out of 10 were women and of the perpetrators eight out of 10 were men, with the majority aged between 13 and 18.“We are extremely concerned at a younger generation of mainly boys and men who are becoming more aggressive in their targeting of Muslims,” said Iman Atta, the director of Tell Mama. More than two-thirds of the attacks and abuse, amounting to 839, took place offline, or on street level — a 31 percent rise from 642 last year. A third of incidents were online, up by 16.3 percent in comparison with the previous year, Press TV mentioned.

Abbas said women were often attacked because of their visibility, which makes them vulnerable. “It’s angry men attacking women … the perpetrators are a part of a generation of angry, disillusioned young men who vent their fury against women,” he said.

Shelina Janmohamed, the author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World, believes “It has definitely felt like the temperature and volume of explicit hatred against Muslims has escalated … I think 2017 was a particularly difficult year for everyone in the country and Muslim women, as report shows, really bore brunt of that”, The guardian reported.

According to Independent, Tell Mama recorded a 475 per cent rise in anti-Muslim street attacks in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, but that was dwarfed by a 700 per cent increase in the week following the Manchester Arena attack and spikes were also seen after each ISIS-inspired atrocity last year.

Criticism was aimed at the police

It is vital to note that these events are not the underlying cause of anti-Muslim incidents, but rather act as triggers, where people with latent racial prejudices feel emboldened to act on their views, violently or otherwise.

Criticism was also aimed at the police, with a recent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services finding large-scale failings in the way hate crimes were dealt with. Tell Mama said victims were often let down by poor recording of incidents and were sometimes left feeling dismissed.

The report said Twitter had demonstrated its inability to stop individuals opening up new accounts repeatedly when they have been banned from using the platform. In one case, a victim had to report 11 separate accounts for harassment.

Tell Mama flagged material that was easy to find and clearly should have been removed, including a tweet that said: “Correct me if I am wrong. All Muslim scum must be gassed.”

Another tweet read: “We are at war! The UK armed forces must go to the Islamic areas and go door to door and shoot them all.”

The police watchdog has warned of a “real possibility” Britain’s exit from the EU next year could trigger a further surge in hate crime.

The best way to tackle hate crime was through education

Imran Awan, an associate professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said police were not always sure what to call hate crimes and inconsistency did not help.

He said the best way to tackle hate crime and Islamophobia was through education. “We need to look at the grassroots or the problems, such as the social deprivation in society,” said Awan.

“A lot of it can be dealt with through education especially at a younger age. That element seems to be missed. We need to look at the grassroots or the problems, such as the social deprivation in society,” said Awan.

“The world feels a more unstable space and in all of this, the voices of victims and outcomes for them in terms of access to justice have not been great,” said Iman Atta, the director of Tell Mama.

Great deal of ignorance about Islam in the UK.

There’s a great deal of ignorance about Islam in the UK and Islam in the West in general,” said Marcus Papadopoulos, the founder and editor of Politics First magazine.

Researchers believe “events which stimulate public discourse on immigration and Islam can correspond with a demonstrable ‘spike’ in anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is bleeding into the political landscape – it emboldens people”.

Islamophobic hate crimes increasing over the past six years

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, said Islamophobic hate crimes had been continually increasing over the past six years and fears the trend will continue.“It is partly driven by terrorism, partly by groups who just want to divide communities, we have social media and we have politicians who seek to blame migrants.”

Mr Mughal described protests in support of jailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as “frightening”, following outbreaks of violence and the blockade of a bus driven by a Muslim woman.

The protests are growing and these people are trying to mainstream hate against the Muslim community,” he added, accusing Ukip of moving to the far right under leader Gerard Batten. “We need to have a zero tolerance approach in politics.”

Offline and online incidents

An offline, or street-level, incident means that the incident occurred in-person between a victim (or property) and a perpetrator. There were therefore more street incidents of anti-Muslim hatred reported into Tell Mama.

Crimes or incidents that are classified as ‘online’ occurred on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, or on other Internet-based platforms, were verified as having happened.

Tell MAMA has listed in its annual report examples of ‘Twitter bots’ that have sought to cause disruption and division in community perceptions and which have actively promoted anti-Muslim hatred. One such Twitter account was @DavidJo52951945 . Responses to the rhetoric on this account, called for violent action against Islamic institutions and on August 30th 2017, the Times reported that this bot originated from Russia.

Furthermore, a Twitter account called @SouthLoneStar, which had amassed some 16,500 followers, was responsible in starting a global trend after the Westminster terrorist attack. The @SouthLoneStar account made several tweets about the terror attack on Westminster Bridge before sharing the photo of a Muslim woman walking across the bridge on a mobile phone, just after the vehicle had mows down pedestrians. It used the major hashtags (#PrayForLondon and #Westminster) to post tweets which described Islam as a ‘cult of death’ and added the #BanIslam hashtag.

An earlier tweet called for Islam to be ‘outlawed’. An archive of the @SouthLoneStar account in January 2017 revealed many pro-Trump tweets and how the account had followed a far-right account named @pepethetroll, which remains active on the platform. Nor was the anti-Muslim content specific to the United States or even Britain. Further archive research of the account reveals that the @SouthLoneStar had attempted to stir-up anti-Muslim views in other European countries. For example, on 11 March 2017, @SouthLoneStar used the ‘#BanIslam’ and ‘#Rotterdam’ hashtags in a tweet which shared an image of about Muslim conquests and the Crusades.

The rise of populism and nationalism, with Muslims often the target

The findings of the sociologist Tahir Abbassaid is a worrying indication of the rise of populism and nationalism, with Muslims often the target. “Islamophobia feeds into the radicalization of young Muslims … Islamophobia is used as a hook but also far-right groups and radical Islamist feed off each other and they are all feeding off of Islamophobia”.

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