LONDON – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spoken up in defense of Muslim women, condemning “vile, revolting” language used on social media, and asking Facebook and Twitter platforms to tackle racism and abuse.
“A lot of abuse takes place on online media and on social media,” Corbyn told a packed meeting at Finsbury Park mosque in north London called to address the rise in attacks targeting Muslim women recently, The Guardian reported on Monday, October 16.
He said he sometimes goes through the “train of events of someone who’s been abused” and was shocked at what he found.
UK Muslims have been experiencing a sharp rise in hate crimes over the past months.
In June, a van ploughed into worshippers outside the Muslim Welfare House, 100 yards from the mosque, shortly after midnight during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
Makram Ali, 51, died of multiple injuries and 11 people were injured.
The London mayor’s office recorded a fivefold increase in anti-Muslim attacks following the London Bridge attack in June.
With their hijab, women were prime targets, especially on public transport, according to monitoring groups.
“We all experience it, and we often don’t even realize it’s a crime,” said one woman in the audience.
“Vulgar things yelled at us, being pushed, being confronted, being terrorized.”
Stand Up to Hate
Corbyn said that hate crime must be challenged wherever and however it raises its head.
“As communities, we must stand up for each other,” he said, adding that an attack on any community, whether it be a mosque, a synagogue or a church, was an attack on all of us.
“Nobody should ever feel alone, isolated, at risk because of their faith, the clothing they choose to wear, the lifestyle they lead,” he added.
The Labour leader said he was shocked after examining social media reaction to comments made by him and Labour MP Diane Abbott following the stabbing of a young Kurdish man in Croydon last year.
“It was unbelievably vile, revolting, disgusting stuff that was thrown particularly at her and to some extent at me … That’s just not acceptable. These media platforms that are hosting social media conversations must shape up. Racist language is wrong, evil and divisive and should not be allowed.”
Corbyn also criticized mainstream media, echoing repeated complaints voiced by members of the public at the meeting over its distorted reporting of Islam and lack of reporting of Islamophobia.
The media’s reporting of attacks on Muslims was “not sufficient … [all attacks] should be reported,” Corbyn said.
Corbyn promised to continue discussions with Transport for London and the police about how they dealt with reports and complaints.
“If you’re a woman alone and you’ve been abused in the street, or abused where you live or abused anywhere at all, you’ve taken a big step in going to tell the police about it … There must then be an appropriate response by the police to acknowledge and understand the seriousness of the crime,” he said.
He suggested that reporting systems could be put in place in schools, colleges, workplaces, and places of worship.