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BACKGROUND Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise after Brexit, terrorist attacks

Europe
19.06.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - Monday‘s van attack on worshippers near a north London mosque could be seen as part of a wider trend of hate crimes against Muslims in the British capital and across the country.

London saw a spike in hate crimes against Muslims after three men apparently motivated by Islamic extremism carried out the London Bridge terrorist attack on June 3, with police announcing some 25 arrests for hate crime in the three days that followed.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, warned a few days after the London Bridge attack that police would take a "zero-tolerance approach to hate crime."

Khan urged more people to report hate crime, as his office said there had been "a significant spike in incidents of hate crime and Islamophobic incidents in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack."

It said the spike was higher than those recorded after the Paris attacks in November 2015 and the murder of Lee Rigby, a soldier who was stabbed to death in London in May 2013.

"The alarming rise in Islamophobic extremism and hatred has gone unchecked for too long," the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia said following Monday‘s vehicle attack on Muslims in London‘s Finsbury Park area.

"A heightened level of introspection is needed into what creates and sustains far right and xenophobic narratives," the lawmakers‘ group said.

The recent rise has been nationwide, not just in London.

The daily number of reported hate crimes in the Manchester area doubled to 56 immediately after the terrorist attack that killed 22 people at Manchester Arena on May 22, local police said.

In one incident reported by local media, a man was arrested after he set fire to the door of a mosque in the town of Oldham, greater Manchester.

In the southern city of Brighton, Mohammed Shafiq, the head of a Muslim anti-extremist organization that cooperates with the government, told The Independent that a man spat on him and said "you killed children" as he was walking along a road in the southern city of Brighton one day after the Manchester attack.

And in Ireland, the imam of a mosque in the western city of Galway said he believed an attack in which rocks smashed windows during late prayers was a "direct result" of the London Bridge attack.

Police say more such crimes are now reported, but they believe that many remain "hidden," often because of fear, resignation or cultural factors.

"We have long since recognized the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under-reported," Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer of the Metropolitan Police said after the London Bridge attack.

Racism in different forms has been part of the everyday lives of Britain‘s ethnic minorities for decades, but many areas of London and other large cities have successfully promoted tolerance and integration.

Analysts said a national debate over immigration before and after last year‘s Brexit referendum fuelled a rise in racism against EU citizens, Muslims, Jews and other groups.

A report in April by polling consultants Opinium found that Britain‘s vote to leave the European Union last June set back racial integration and hampered dialogue on ethnic relations.

"What we see is that the mood music around culture, national identity and integration has changed dramatically, and this has impacted on the progress we believed we were seeing early in 2016," Opinium said, following online interviews with 2,000 people.

Sara Khan, an activist and commentator who founded Inspire, a counter-extremism and women‘s rights organization founded by Muslim women, said British people should "recognize that we are living in an era of growing extremism, in particular from both far right and Islamist."

"Symbiotic in nature, they share common characteristics, both dehumanize, both promote a supremacist ideology and both seek to obliterate our shared middle ground of a common humanity," she said following Monday‘s attack.

 

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