LONDON – Hate crimes targeting mosques and other Muslim places of worship across the UK more than doubled between 2016 and 2017, reflecting growing sentiments against the religious minority in the west, a Press Association investigation has found.
“Attacks on any religious group or minority are abominable,” shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told Birmingham Mail on Monday, October 9, calling the figures “deeply troubling”.
“These anti-Muslim attacks will be condemned by all decent people.”
According to Press Association report, police forces recorded 110 hate crimes directed at mosques between March and July this year, up from just 47 over the same period in 2016.
Racist abuse and threats to “bomb the mosque” feature heavily among the hate crimes, as do incidents of offenders smashing windows on buildings and parked cars.
Other records include offensive graffiti sprayed onto buildings, violent assaults on worshippers, two cases of arson and two cases of individuals leaving bacon on door handles at mosques.
The figures come to light within weeks of separate incidents in which an imam and surgeon, who treated Manchester bombing victims, was stabbed outside a mosque in Cheshire. A 14-year-old boy was also stabbed multiple times in the face and neck outside a mosque in Birmingham.
Other high-profile cases of hate crime at mosques this year include the Finsbury Park terror attack in June, a Manchester mosque gutted by fire in an arson attack in July, and the sending of a white powder and bomb threats to three mosques across London in July.
“That’s a really heavy responsibility. Now to worry that people are going to die on my doorstep is heartbreaking,” said Erkin Guney, the funeral director at the Shacklewell Lane Mosque in north London.
“I’m not concerned about myself, I’m concerned about the public and the people that come here,” he added.
“We’ve got community events that take place here. Everyone comes, it’s not just about Muslims in the mosque.”
Abbott, the shadow Home Secretary, called on the Home Office to publish data on hate crimes against all places of worship “as a matter of course” after “worrying reports of attacks on synagogues as well as mosques”.
“Politicians have a particular responsibility in the language they use, the policies they advocate and the climate they create.
“There should be a unanimous message that violence against any section of our society is unacceptable.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it.”