Three-quarters of reported Islamophobic hate crimes are occurring online – with the English Defence League the main protagonists behind most of the internet attacks – according to new research.
Professor Nigel Copsey of Teesside University presented the research at a two-day conference at the University of Teesside where he revealed the findings from his latest study “Anti-Muslim hate and the Far Right”.
The conference was attended by researchers and academics from across Europe and the US.
Professor Copsey said: “What is significant about our analysis is the extent to which the far right is implicated in anti-Muslim hate crimes online.
“Of the organisations that are specifically identified, the English Defence League, rather than the BNP, is by far the most active organisation making its presence felt in this particular domain.”
Prof Copsey also brought attention to the increase in Islamophobic incidents since the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May.
He said: “An obvious concern now is whether the number of hate crime incidents returns to ‘normal’ levels or whether Woolwich has been a game-changer in terms of increasing the underlying incidence of anti-Muslim hate over the longer term.”
The report listed a section on Woolwich, though Professor Copsey stated that further analysis is required and he will be working towards a separate study on attacks post Woolwich.
The two-day conference initiated the official launch of Teesside University’s “Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies” at its Darlington campus, the first of its kind in the country.
The report is an independent assessment of data from the Tell Mama project which was launched in March 2012. Professor Copsey’s report bases its findings on data from April 2012 to April 2013
Key findings from the Teesside report
- Reluctance to report incidents to the police remains a significant problem;
- Offline incidents that were reported were mainly street based (55 per cent) with 18 per cent taking place at mosques and other Islamic institutions and 13 per cent at workplaces and schools;
- 1 in every 2 reported offline attacks involved low-level abuse and harassment, with less than 10 per cent involving extreme violence;
- Of the reported offline offences the majority of victims were female and, of these, over 80 per cent were women who were easily identifiable as Muslim, i.e. wearing the hijab or niqab;
- Most offline perpetrators were reported as male (78 per cent) and under the age of forty;
- The majority of reported offline incidents were not linked to the far right, but a far right link was nonetheless reported in almost 1 in every 4 offline cases;
- Most reported anti-Muslim hate crime incidents occurred on-line (74 per cent);
- The majority of reported online cases did include threats of offline action and therefore should not be dismissed or underestimated;
- Most perpetrators of online anti-Muslim hate crime were reported as male;
- Nearly 70 per cent of online incidents reported a link to the far right;
- Of the online incidents that reported a link to the far right, it is the EDL, rather than the BNP, that was specifically named in 49 per cent of such cases. The English Defence League is the far-right organisation that is most implicated in disseminating anti-Muslim hate online.
- The overall link to the far right reported by victims stood at 56 per cent for the period 1 April 2012 to 30 April 2013 – 300 online incidents reported a link to the far right; 29 offline cases reported such a link.