Dossier reveals a massive rise in attacks on British Muslims

By Ian Herbert,Ian Burrell@iburrell
Friday 04 January 2002 01:00

The rate of attacks on British Muslims since the terrorist atrocities in America is more than 13 times higher than in a typical year, according to figures compiled recently by Islamic organisations.

More than 400 attacks since 11 September, ranging from nuisance calls to fire-bombings, have been logged by a team of 300 field workers from Muslim organisations across Britain.

The dossier, compiled by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, shows that Britain's Muslims are living in an atmosphere of heightened hostility and mistrust, which has continued during the campaign in Afghanistan and after the recent arrests of suspected British Muslim terrorists.

The commission said the number of incidents reported was more than four times as many as recorded, on average, in any 12 months.

Ahmed Versi, the editor of Muslim News, said: "People have the perception that anyone who looks like a Muslim is a terrorist. It is important that they should distinguish between a few individuals and the majority who have nothing to do with these attacks."

Much of the "Islamophobia" is expressed in the form of low-level harassment. But even physical attacks are often not being reported to the police.

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said there had been an increase in discrimination, especially against those wearing beards or headscarves. Muslim children had also reported being harassed and called "terrorists" by fellow pupils. "We are made to feel like outsiders, like fifth columnists," he said.

The rise in attacks reported by Muslim outreach workers, may not be reflected in official figures. Greater Manchester Police said it had not observed a "noticeable rise" inanti-Muslim attacks. But police in South Wales and in east London did record upsurges. The South Wales Chief Constable, Tony Burden, said the rise was "due to the events in America".

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