Expert warns of difficult times to come
Anti-Muslim attacks across West Yorkshire and the wider UK are expected to continue for some time, predicts a leading charity which specialises in monitoring hate crimes.
STOP HATE UK said that after events such as the Paris attacks by terrorists, there tends to be a spike in the number of complaints by Muslims which tapers off when the media focus wanes, but on this occasion, the situation is different.
“The problem that we have at the moment is that everyone is expecting more acts of terrorism, so given the heightened sense of awareness, these incidents will continue for some time,” Chief Executive Rose Simkins told Asian Express.
She added that the majority of complaints were not being reported because there may be a sense of apathy where people say ‘it’s just a sign of the times’ or ‘it will happen, no one can stop it’.
If every hate crime against Muslims were to be reported, she said, the spike would be an increase by thousands of per cent and not just 300 per cent as was reported the week after.
She was speaking ahead of a workshop in Leeds organised by Building Bridges and the Muslim Community Safety Forum (MCSF) for West Yorkshire to mark National Islamophobia Awareness Month.
Kauser Jan of the MSCF said they recorded an increase of more than 100 incidents.
“I had a call from a butcher saying that a very well dressed man approached him twice to get a large supply of pig heads and feet which he intended to use to desecrate mosques,” she told the Asian Express.
“In addition, a young woman from Leeds faced severe verbal abuse from a group of white men in London and on advice from her mother, she removed her hijab to blend into the population,” Ms Jan added.
She said that attacks against Muslims were once classified under the general category of hate crimes but two months ago it has been given its own classification as Islamophobia.
She said it was everybody’s business.
“If you see it, hear it or know of it, report it. If you know someone who has been a victim, go and help them. Everyone needs to speak up and report it.”
Shahab Adris of MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development) said that in the last year there were 2,903 hate crimes in West Yorkshire of which 632 were anti-Muslim. This represented a 12 per cent increase in hate crimes in the region.
He said that the British media was part responsible for inciting anti-Muslim sentiment.
He cited headlines in national newspapers such as the front page story in The Sun edition of Monday 23rd November which stated that “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”.
The pollster behind the statistics has since said the newspaper misinterpreted the data.
The press watchdog reported a record number of complaints about the article (See related story).
Other headlines which MEND documented included: “Muslim sickos’ maddie kidnap shock”, “Muslim plot to kill people”, “Christmas is banned: it offends Muslims”, “Muslim schools ban our culture”, “Britain goes halal (but nobody tells public)”, “Islam poses a threat to the West, say 53pc in poll”, and “Muslim-only public loos”.
He said there was also discrimination against Muslims across financial, employment and social sectors, among other, even though they contributed £31 billion to the economy.
The event at the Hamara Community Centre in Beeston, Leeds, brought together a cross section of support groups and organisations including the Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Police.
The purpose was to make them aware of how to spot signs of Islamophobia, devise ways to tackle it and how to further the idea of equal opportunities for the betterment of all in the community.
A hate crime is any behaviour which someone thinks was caused by hostility, prejudice or hatred of:
- Disability: physical, hearing, visual, mental health, learning
- gender identity: transgender, transsexual, transvestite
- Race, skin colour, nationality, ethnicity or heritage
- Religion, faith or belief: including people without a faith
- Sexual orientation: lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual
Hate crime includes things like:
- Name calling, verbal abuse
- Bullying, threats, intimidation, harassment
- Spitting, hitting, kicking, physical attacks, violence, murder
- Damage to property (eg car, homes)
- Graffiti, writing notes, email, text messages, comments, websites
Getting help/reporting it:
Further information: www.StopHateUK.org.