LONDON – A group recording anti-Muslim hate attacks has warned that street attacks targeting UK Muslims have soared over the past year, a change it attributed to terror attacks and political rhetoric.
“It is partly driven by terrorism, partly by groups who just want to divide communities, we have social media and we have politicians who seek to blame migrants,” Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim incidents in Britain, told The Independent.
“Anti-Muslim rhetoric is bleeding into the political landscape – it emboldens people.”
The group recorded a 30 percent rise in street incidents and a 16 percent rise in 2017, taking the number of verified reports to a record of 1,201.
It also warned of a “marked shift” towards more serious offline incidents like physical attacks, vandalism, and abuse, as hatred continues to spread on social media.
For Mughal, the recent protests in support of jailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and blockade of a bus driven by a Muslim woman are “frightening”.
“The protests are growing and these people are trying to mainstream hate against the Muslim community,” he added, accusing Ukip of moving to the far right under leader Gerard Batten. “We need to have a zero-tolerance approach in politics.”
Tell Mama recorded a 475 percent rise in anti-Muslim street attacks in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, but that was dwarfed by a 700 percent increase in the week following the Manchester Arena attack and spikes were also seen after each Isis-inspired atrocity last year.
Researchers said: “Events which stimulate public discourse on immigration and Islam can correspond with a demonstrable ‘spike’ in anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents.
“It is vital to note that these events are not the underlying cause of anti-Muslim incidents, but rather act as triggers, where people with latent racial prejudices feel emboldened to act on their views, violently or otherwise.”