SHAFAQNA – Attacks against Muslims in London have more than tripled since the Paris terrorist atrocity, with the majority involving harassment, figures show.
The Metropolitan police said they had received 24 reports of Islamophobic incidents in the week ending 10 November, three days before the massacre in the French capital. That figure rose to 46 in the week ending 17 November, four days after the attacks. There was a further rise of reported attacks in the week ending 24 November, when the tally reached 76.
A police spokesman said: “It is with regret, but something that we have come to realise, through experience, that hate crime can increase during these difficult times.
“We know Muslim communities in London are feeling anxious and we are providing extra patrols and are speaking regularly with local mosques and community leaders to reassure and address concerns, while closely monitoring the situation.
“We will not tolerate hate crime,” he said, adding that there were 900 specialist officers working across London in community safety units dedicated to investigating hate crime. “No one should suffer in silence. We urge people to report hate crime to us as soon as possible so we can act.”
The findings follow a series of high-profile anti-Muslim attacks carried out on public transport. Footage emerged last month of a woman wearing a hijab being pushed into an oncoming train on the London Underground. The attacker has since been charged with attempted murder.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The UK as a whole is renowned for its respect for everyone, but there is a genuine concern that Islamophobia is on the rise.”
He said Friday’s Scotland Yard figures were“corroborated by report after report, from a range of different third parties. Even a mosque in our cosmopolitan capital, Finsbury Park mosque, only luckily escaped an arson attack that the Met Police called a hate crime.”
Versi was referring to the incident in which CCTV images showed a man trying to set the mosque on fire by throwinga molotov cocktail which failed to explode.
Versi, who speaks for the MCB on terrorism and security issues, said there had been a rise in both verbal and phyical attacks. “We really need to take this this form of bigotry seriously and all forms of bigotry need to be treated equally by the government in order for us to be able to tackle this.”
David Cameron has promised more will be done to tackle Islamophobic crime, announcing in autumn that such crimes are to be recorded as a separate category for the first time.
Versi said the figures may not take into account all the attacks Muslims have faced in the last few weeks. “Unfortunately, from our own experience many people have suffered and have chosen not to report them. In spite of these figures being bad, it is likely that many have not been reported.”
An anti-racism rally has been planned on Friday evening outside Finsbury Park mosque, a week after the attempted arson attack. A vigil is to be held to show unity against all forms of racism. “Society as a whole will continue to work together and show that we will not be divided by people who want to divide us,” Versi said.
The hate crime figures were released a day after the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, announced he was launching the UK branch of the rightwing group Pegida. He said he would campaign to ban all Muslim immigration to the UK for five years, prevent the building of new mosques and ban the funding of mosques abroad.
Hate crime figures released earlier this year showed the number of incidences reported to police across England and Wales had jumped by nearly a fifth. There were 52,528 such offences in 2014/15 – an increase of 18% compared with the previous year. More than 80% were classed as race hate crimes, with others involved religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender victims.
Analysis of the Crime survey for England and Wales indicated that Muslims were more likely than people from other faith groups to be targeted in religiously motivated crimes.
Contrary to reports, statisticians found there was no clear spike in offences around the time of the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham in August last year, or the Charlie Hebdo terrorist shooting in Paris in January.
Police figures also pointed to rising levels of antisemitic hate crimes in parts of the UK. In London, the number of offences against Jewish people and property more than doubled in a year.