World Bulletin / News Desk
Hate crimes against Muslims in the UK have soared following last year's murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, according to British police figures.
Islamophobic hate crimes from February 2013 to February 2014 showed a 60 percent increase, according to latest figures released by the London Met Police.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the UK government-support campaign Tell Mama, which records anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, told Anadolu Agency (AA): "The predominant sharp rise in figures that ACPO, (the Association of Chief Police Officers), the Metropolitan Police Service and Tell Mama have shown in 2013, come from the murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich."
He added the murder clearly showed that a major local or national incident can severely affect community cohesion and lead to an anti-Muslim backlash that takes months to abate.
Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 24, Christian Britons of Nigerian descent who later converted to Islam, were both jailed for life at the Old Bailey in London in February for the attack on May 22 2013.
Hacked to death
Rigby was murdered near Woolwich Barracks in southeast London last year after his assailants ran him down by car and stabbed and hacked him to death.
The British government described the incident as a "terror attack" and one of Rigby's murderers told a jury at his trial that he was a "soldier of Allah".
Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recorded 500 Islamophobic crimes following the incident. A total of 336 were recorded in 2012 and 318 in 2011.
However, as some UK police forces say they do not always record the faith of a victim of religious hate-crime, it is believed the figures could be much higher.
Mughal said that a major local, national or international incident like Lee Riby's murder, allied to heavy far-right activities promoting anti-Muslim hate online and through social media and blogs on a daily level, can produce a storm of a backlash against innocent Muslims.
"However, recent corrosive headlines on virtually a daily basis using the term 'Muslim' and associating it with 'extremism', 'grooming', 'paedophilia', 'violence' and/or 'misogyny', may also have created the environment in which hate, intolerance and bigotry are deemed to be acceptable against this faith group," he added.
The Tell Mama project reports that women are targeted more than men and that three-quarters of the incidents it records occur online.
Mughal told the AA: "Visible Muslim women, those who wear the Hijab and the Niqab, are represented more in our reports that come in regarding street based anti-Muslim incidents.
"In the online world, it is a mixed picture though we can state that Muslim women who wear the Hijab and whose avatar shows this on Twitter, for example, suffer anti-Muslim hate statements and misogynistic statements by perpetrators.
"Some of the language is sexualised so as to demean the woman and one can only assume that the perpetrator assumes that the best way to demean a visibly religious women is to do it through sexual statements."
He said that victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes were given a range of assistance from legal advice and services including counseling, signposting, police assistance and - sometimes - a listening ear.
"We undertake detailed casework on cases that come in and we also advocate, when required, for victims" he added.
Tackling hate crimes
Mughal said that the British government repeatedly put tackling hate crime on its agenda.
"However, a shortfall of resources in the UK due to the financial downturn means that there is a constant tension for the need for more resources in areas such as this. Saying that, members of the public can report hate crimes through the 'True Vision' website run by the Ministry of Justice and the Association of Chief Police Officers," he added.
He noted that the government also facilitated the setting up of Tell MAMA, which has been very successful.
Mughal said the campaign was the first nationwide hate crime reporting project in the UK for monitoring, measuring and recording anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Tell Mama campaign has achieved more than 100 arrests since January 2012, helping more than 1,500 victims of anti-Muslim hate, producing literature to inform people where they can report incidents and help expose those promoting intolerance, bigotry and hate against Muslims online and at a street level.
In addition, part of the work is also aimed at raising awareness in Muslim communities so that they report hate incidents and work with police forces for prosecutions.
Tell Mama's Director also underscored that Teesside University in the UK was currently reviewing and analyzing their data.
"We believe that all of our data should be checked and verified by an independent academic partner to ensure that an independent organization produces a qualified report on our data collection. This is very important," he added.
Back in January an Afghan family living in London found a pig's head in the garden of their house.
Moreover, there have been pork-based incidents taking place at mosques or Islamic centers across the UK.
In December 2013, a cross wrapped in ham was left outside the home of another Muslim family.
Home Office figures showed that, in 2011, 43,748 hate crimes were recorded in England and Wales by police forces and four percent were religion-focused hate crimes.
There are about 3 million Muslims living in the UK and by 2030, there are expected to be 5.5 million.Last Mod: 26 Mart 2014, 15:51