New York, 24 Ramadan 1437/29 June 2016 (MINA) – Incidents of anti-Muslim abuse and attacks in public areas rose by 326% in 2015, with women disproportionately targeted by mostly teenage perpetrators, according to a new report from the monitoring group Tell MAMA.
More than one in 10 of all incidents reported to the organisation took place in educational establishments, with public transport in city centres another cluster area.
Far-right extremist groups and sympathisers were actively promoting hatred of Muslims on social media, which was a significant radicalisation factor, said Tell MAMA.
“The statistics paint a profoundly bleak picture of the explosion of anti-Muslim hate both online and on our streets, with visible Muslim women being disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers,” said Shahid Malik, chair of Tell MAMA.
“This exponential growth is a testament to the fact that despite great efforts to fight anti-Muslim hatred, as a society we are still failing far too many of our citizens. With the backdrop of the Brexit vote and the spike in racist incidents that seems to be emerging, the government should be under no illusions, things could quickly become unpleasant for Britain’s minorities.”
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According to the report, the ability of Muslim women to travel on public transport free of fear and intimidation is being curtailed. Women wearing the hijab or niqab were especially vulnerable.
“The largest proportion of incidents involve Muslim women, usually wearing Islamic garments, facing attacks from young white males,” said the report.
The demographic of perpetrators had also changed, with a marked shift to youths aged between 13 and 18, according to data collected from victims. The findings “suggest that some teenagers are being radicalised and are moving away from the mainstream views of their age group, who are much more multicultural in their orientation,” the report said.
Tell MAMA, which was founded in 2012, uses data from more than 15 police forces plus reports from victims and members of the public to compile a picture of Islamophobic activity in the UK.
The organisation directly received 1,128 reports of abuse and attacks in 2015, of which it verified more than 800.
Alongside the notable spike in street-based incidents, it reported many victims saying that bystanders had not intervened or challenged abusive behaviour.
The proportion of incidents – 11% – taking place in schools and colleges was “troubling”, said the report. Teaching staff need to be trained to identify and challenge bigotry in the classroom, said Tell MAMA.
Workers in customer service roles, such as catering, security and taxi drivers, were also disproportionately targeted, according to the report.
Fiyaz Mughal, Tell MAMA’s founder, said: “We simply cannot have such hatred fester in our communities and in our societies. With a 326% increase in anti-Muslim hatred reported to us in 2015, we have to deal with this issue … Now is the time to redouble our efforts to tackle such hate from all extremist groups.”(T/R04/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)