09/10/2017 12:34 PM IST | Updated 09/10/2017 6:52 PM IST

Hate Crimes Targeting Mosques In UK More Than Doubles In A Year

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Hate crimes targeting mosques and other Muslim places of worship has soared during the last year

Hate crimes targeting mosques and other Muslim places of worship across the UK more than doubled between 2016 and 2017.

Police forces recorded 110 hate crimes directed at mosques between March and July this year, up from just 47 over the same period in 2016, a Press Association investigation has found. 

Racist abuse and threats to “bomb the mosque” feature heavily among the hate crimes, as do incidents of offenders smashing windows on buildings and parked cars.

Other records include offensive graffiti sprayed on to buildings, violent assaults on worshippers, two cases of arson and two cases of individuals leaving bacon on door handles at mosques.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called the figures “deeply troubling”.

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Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called the figures 'deeply troubling'

“Attacks on any religious group or minority are abominable,” she said, adding: “These anti-Muslim attacks will be condemned by all decent people.”

The data was obtained by the Press Association through Freedom of Information requests to UK police forces. The figures, based on 42 responses from 45 forces, also show:

25 forces saw a year-on-year increase in hate crimes directed at mosques, with the biggest rise reported by Greater Manchester Police (nine crimes, up from zero) and London’s Metropolitan Police (17 crimes, up from eight).

Threats, harassment or other intimidating behaviour more than tripled, from 14 crimes in 2016 to 49 in 2017.

Violent crime against individuals more than doubled from five recorded crimes against worshippers at mosques in 2016 to 11 crimes in 2017.

Crimes recorded as vandalism or criminal damage increased from 12 in 2016 to 15 in 2017.

Britain endured a number of terror attacks claimed by Islamic State over the period in which the crimes were recorded, at London Bridge, Westminster and Manchester.

The figures come to light within weeks of separate incidents in which an imam and surgeon who treated Manchester bombing victims was stabbed outside a mosque in Cheshire and a 14-year-old boy was stabbed multiple times in the face and neck outside a mosque in Birmingham.

Other high-profile cases of hate crime at mosques this year include the Finsbury Park terror attack in June, a Manchester mosque gutted by fire in an arson attack in July and the sending of a white powder and bomb threats to three mosques across London in July.

More than 50 places of worship, almost half of them mosques, applied for the most recent round of anti-hate crime funding from the Government, which ended in June.

Applications for funding, intended to provide security measures, were made available to all places of worship in April and May but extended into June after terror attacks at the start of the summer.

Abbott called on the Home Office to publish data on hate crimes against all places of worship “as a matter of course” after “worrying reports of attacks on synagogues as well as mosques”.

She said: “Politicians have a particular responsibility in the language they use, the policies they advocate and the climate they create.

“There should be a unanimous message that violence against any section of our society is unacceptable.”

Tell Mama, a charity who monitor and record anti-Muslim incidents, said “sadly these figures have not come as a shock”.

The group’s director, Iman A’tta, told HuffPost UK that between June 2013 and May 2017 it had recorded 160 incidents against mosques.

“As anti-Muslim hatred has sadly become more vocal and noticeable, mosques are seen as the visible symbol of local Muslim communities and are therefore targeted. However, the impact of the wider Muslim community using the mosque is significant.”

Tell Mama told HuffPost that terrorism is a “major driver” for anti-Muslim attacks, but added there were other factors such as “inflammatory media headlines and far right extremism and rhetoric”.

“However, the largest impact on Muslim communities is through terrorism and that can’t be denied since some seem to believe that the media is the major cause of anti-Muslim attacks.

Inflammatory headlines may play a role, but they do not come anywhere near the real world impacts that Islamist terrorism causes. Sadly, British Muslims are then caught and squeezed between those who use their faith to murder and those who target them and those who use such situations to play to exclusionary mindsets.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it.”

A report by Hope not Hate in August highlighted that Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam had “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West. 

Tell Mama
A graphic from Tell Mama shows how hate crimes spike in the UK after terror attacks 

“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate (HnH) chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report. 

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”

The report found that despite views on immigration “softening”, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society”.

The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.

The study found older people were more prone to Islamophobia, “painting a worrying set of views” which HnH said would require “significant effort” to address.