Spike in hate crimes against Muslims after attacks by extremists

Safya Khan-Ruf - 21 06 17

Earlier this week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised an audience at Finsbury mosque – where a van driver deliberately mowed over a group of worshippers, leaving one dead and 11 injured – better security for places of worship and for visibly Muslim women who are often an “easy” target of hate crime.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also promised additional police measures to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.

Although much attention has rightly been focused on recent Islamist-inspired terror attacks, the attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park wasn’t an isolated incident. Finsbury Park Mosque has itself been a previous target.

Hoaxes, threats and murder

Last year it was sent white powder and two years ago it was targeted with a makeshift petrol bomb. There have previously been other incidents in the UK, such as Ukrainian neo-Nazi Pavlo Lapshyn murdering 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem and trying to bomb several West Midlands mosques in 2013, in the hope of instigating a “race war”.

Just hours after the Finsbury attack, the East London Mosque in Whitechapel was evacuated after a hoax bomb threat was called in. Then, early this morning, a man was tasered by the police outside Regent’s Park mosque after he allegedly attacked people leaving the mosque.

Tell MAMA, an organisation that records anti-Muslim hate crimes, reports that the number of anti-Muslim attacks in Manchester went up fivefold in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing, with 139 incidents reported compared to 25 incidents in previous weeks.

Police chiefs have also said there has been a short-term spike in London hate crimes against Muslims following the London Bridge attack, though more specific data has yet to be released. While in Manchester the volume of hate crime has returned to the levels seen before the bombing, the situation in London is not as clear.

After the terrorist incident near the Finsbury Park mosque, Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged that extra police resources to protect the Muslim community would be in place for however long was needed. Writing in The Guardian, she said:

“In recent times Muslims have been quick to show solidarity and support victims of other attacks, and it is now time to extend the same hand of friendship to them.”

“Muslims must feel safe and we are working together to tackle hate crime as well as all forms of extremism.” 

Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said in a statement before the Finsbury Park attack: “We know that terrorist attacks and other national and global events have the potential to trigger short-term spikes of hate crime… For this reason we have increased the central reporting of hate crimes for police forces so that we can identify trends and assess threats.”

London hate crimes rising

The Met Police said the volume of “Islamophobic hate crime” it records has increased sharply in the last four years. The force recorded 343 incidents in the 12 months to March 2013, 1,109 in the 12 months to March 2016 and 1,260 in the 12 months to this March.


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