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New report highlights ‘sharp rise’ in anti-Muslim attacks and ‘environment of hate’ in Britain

Project which records anti-Muslim incidents in the UK reveals how, over the last 36 hours, it has seen related cases rise after the Paris attacks

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Wednesday 18 November 2015 18:48 GMT

The extent to which Muslims in the UK are living in a “new normal environment of hate” has come to light in an “alarming” new report from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

The advocacy organisation carried out a study into daily experiences of British Muslims to find a sharp rise in the number of people reporting verbal abuse. There has also been an increase in the number of physical attacks since the survey was last conducted in 2010.

From the 1,800 surveys conducted, results showed that, between 2010 and 2014, the number of people who reported seeing Islamophobia directed at someone else spiked from 50 per cent to 82 per cent.

In the same period, the number of people who said they’d witnessed negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims rose from 69 per cent to 93.3 per cent, suggesting such experiences have become almost universal for Muslims.

Read the report’s complete executive summary:

Another key finding showed how over 50 per cent of those surveyed in areas where there is a high Muslim population believed politicians condone discriminatory acts against Muslims. This, says the report, shows Islamophobia has evolved into “new, accepted forms of discrimination against a particular group.”

According to Al Jazeera English, the complete report highlights specific case of Islamophobia, including that of a Kuwaiti tourist who is said to have been detained and questioned under terrorism legislation for taking a selfie of himself outside a shopping centre.

Another woman - who worked with autistic children - was reportedly told she could not wear a hijab because parents would not feel safe leaving their children with her

‘Report exposes hatred of Muslims’ - watch IHRC’s video:

Arzu Merali - head of research at IHRC and one of the report’s authors - described how Britain is living in a myth of a post-racial society which ignores structural racism. She added: “If this rhetoric continues, we are not going to do more than scratch the surface of the issue.

“The hate environment created by negative political and media discourse - mutually constituted with laws that discriminate, including the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 - work together to create a hate environment within which the negative experiences of hated societies are produced. This research shows, in the UK, incidents have worsened over the five- year period.”

Where respondents set out their own recommendations - including the need for education, for Muslims to condemn atrocities, better public relations and raising awareness, and action from the Government, law enforcement, the media, and actors - the report’s authors set out their own comprehensive recommendations in tackling the issue.

The authors have proposed an end to double standards in treatment of issues relating to Islamophobia, anti-Muslim prejudice, and racism, as well as a “radical rethink” of government strategy attempting to deal with the problems facing Muslims in Britain. The latter was recently discussed by academics at the report’s launch who condemned the UK Government's Prevent strategy for the way it “socialises hatred, particularly within the education system and its institutions.”

Muslim scholar's message to Paris attackers

Dr Rowan Williams - former Archbishop of Canterbury and lecturer at Cambridge University - said of the study’s findings: “It identifies a shocking deterioration in the quality of everyday life since the last report. Increasing hostility in political and media discourse, increasing hostility on the streets, in the labour market, and in educational contexts are some of the key markers of increasing anti-Muslim hate identified.

“Opening up the political space through building alliances and creating cross-national, cross-class, trans-racial and multi-gendered coalitions for change on this vital issue is central.”#

As well as IHRC’s new findings, Tell Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (Tell MAMA) - a project which records anti-Muslim incidents in the UK - today revealed how, in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, over the last 36 hours, it has seen a number of cases come in. One, in particular, said the group, showed how “street based anti-Muslim hatred is also gender specific,” with perpetrators mainly being white males and the victims mainly being visible Muslim females.

A member of the public told Tell MAMA: “I saw a man behave inappropriately and make racist comments to a young woman on the tube where a white man wouldn’t sit next to a young girl with a hijab on. He called her a ‘dirty P***’ and [told her] to ‘f*** off back to Syria because girls do not wear hijabs in England’.

“I wanted to say something but was quite scared as none of the commuters did anything and looked away. She did speak back to him politely, and said: ‘I’m a British-Pakistani and am not forcing my faith on you or anyone else’.

“The man said a few more things and eventually sat elsewhere. I wanted to report it because I felt so angry she was subject to this and helpless I couldn’t support her.”

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