Muslims call for action against hate crimes

Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise, with an increase in assaults, vandalised mosques and desecrated graves

Britain's largest mainstream Muslim organisation will today call for "robust action" to combat Islamophobic attacks amid fears of growing violence and under-reporting of hate crimes.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) will challenge the "ethnic profiling" of members of its community, claiming that minorities are 42 times more likely to be targeted under the Terrorism Act.

MCB secretary-general Farooq Murad will tell the council's AGM in Birmingham that there must be more monitoring of anti-Muslim crimes in response to incidents including violent assaults, death threats and the desecration of graves. He will also complain that not enough is being done to encourage communities to report crimes to the police.

The calls, supported by leading academics, a counter-terrorist think-tank and Muslim groups, come as the Metropolitan Police confirmed a total of 762 Islamophobic offences in London since April 2009, including 333 in 2010/11 and 57 since this April. A spokesman said the Met was aware of "significant" under-reporting of hate crime, and acknowledged "missed opportunities" to keep victims safe.

Despite rising concerns about the impact of hate crime on all communities, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that data on such offences are not collated centrally as this would be an "overly bureaucratic process for local forces". Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, who leads the police on hate crime, was unavailable for comment.

In his speech, Mr Murad is expected to warn that attacks are increasing. "Islamophobic attacks, on persons and properties, are committed by a tiny minority, but the number of incidents is increasing. Robust action is necessary and this means we must have a systematic manner of recording, monitoring and analysing such attacks. Only a small number of police forces record anti-Muslim hate crimes."

He will claim that figures collated from only two police forces indicate 1,200 Anti-Muslim crimes in 2010, as opposed to 546 anti-Semitic crimes from all the police forces in the UK.

Muslims from across the country have reported attacks on imams and mosque staff, including petrol bombings and bricks thrown through windows, pigs' heads being fixed prominently to entrances and minarets, vandalism and abusive messages.

Mr Murad will tell the gathering at the Bordesley Centre: "It is not a piece of cloth on someone's head or face, the shape of someone's dress, a harmless concrete pillar on a religious building or even not speaking a common language that creates alienation."

Dr Robert Lambert, co-director of

the European Muslim Research Centre and research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, said a decade of research will report before the 10th anniversary of 11 September.

His report will provide comprehensive figures on attacks on mosques, Islamic organisations and Muslim institutions, while avoiding confusion over race-related or random attacks.

Dr Lambert, a former counter-terrorism police officer, said problems over data collection stemmed from a lack of political will, rather than from the police efforts – and that the onus was on Muslim communities to emulate the "outstanding" data collection around anti-Semitic crimes conducted by the Community Security Trust.

He added: "When I was working in the police, some of the notable spikes in incidents came after terrorist events such as 9/11 and 7/7. We have more than 50 incidences of fire-bomb attacks and we have yet to reach the 10-year anniversary. But no leading politician has seen fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with mosque leaders. That is quite something."

Ghaffar Hussain of the counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam said: "Anti-Muslim bigotry is very real. It does exist. There are sections of our society who are deeply suspicious of Muslims, even of Muslims building mosques, and are threatened by the idea of Islamification across Europe."

Some 40 to 60 per cent of the mosques, Islamic centres and Muslim organisations in the UK have suffered at least one attack since 9/11.

Taji Mustafa, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, said: "Xenophobic attacks on Muslims have increased under successive governments. In a manipulative alliance with some sections of the media, they have demonised Islam as part of their foreign policy propaganda."

Case study: Community leader and diversity trainer

Mohammed Khaliel, 48, lives in High Wycombe and was among horrified families who discovered Muslim graves at a local cemetery had been desecrated on 20 April

"I am the community representative, but, equally, I'm a victim of it as well. My mother had been buried there four weeks earlier.

This is not the first time that there has been desecration. This time it was much more severe, with more than 25 graves attacked. I've got photographic evidence of someone hammering them. It was a proper effort to deliberately do it.

It was pure hatred. You have a graveyard that is 200 years old that has a small section for Muslims, and only that section was attacked. It was clearly Islamophobia.

I'm on a number of advisory boards, including Scotland Yard, so I get notified as a courtesy on any Islamic issues relating to the community. On this one, they asked me to sit down before they told me.

A lot of the relatives belong to our mosque. We called an emergency meeting, and we had to calm people down. There was a stage at which, if we had not handled things properly, it could have turned into an expression of anger. But that didn't discount the hurt they felt for [their] loved ones to be attacked like that."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor