There has been a surge in hate crime against Muslims in England and Wales, new Home Office data has revealed.
In 2017/18, just over half (52%) of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims (2,965 offences). This is a much greater proportion than the proportion of the population in England and Wales who identify as Muslims (4.8 per cent of the population).
The next most commonly targeted group were Jewish people, who were targeted in 12 per cent of religious hate crimes (672 offences). Around 0.5% of the population in England and Wales identified as Jewish in the 2011 Census.
Overall, religiously-motivated hate crime rose by 40%, from 5,949 to 8,336, in the space of a year, according to the Home Office data.
The total number of hate incidents reached a record 94,098, from April 2017 to March 2018 – a rise of 17% from the previous year. Just over three-quarters of those – a total of 71,251 – were classified as “race hate” which was most probably also experienced by many Muslims.
Hate crime is defined as an offence which the victim considers to be driven by hostility towards their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity. It can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.
In the past year, the types of anti-Muslim offences have included: a man soliciting murder after sending letters calling for “Punish a Muslim Day”; a man attempting to murder a Muslim woman and 12-year-old schoolgirl in “revenge” for terror attacks; and a Britain First supporter telling police “I’m going to kill a Muslim. I’m doing this for Britain” before ploughing his car into an Indian restaurant.
Visibly Muslim women have been particularly targeted. Only last week a Muslim teenager was beaten and her headscarf grabbed during an attack in Bethnal Green.
The detailed monthly police figures also confirm what experts have long said – that moments of tension such as the 2016 Brexit vote, terrorism incidents or international crises trigger short-term “spikes” in hate.
Following the release of the data, the Muslim Council of Britain repeated calls for meaningful and proactive government action.
Harun Khan, MCB Secretary General, said: “For years, Muslim communities have called for meaningful Government action against the rise in Islamophobia, yet this has been met by a tepid response at best.
“No longer can the government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked. There has been little action against bullying of Muslim children, minimal funding for security for Muslim institutions (and only during specific periods) and no support to Muslim communities to encourage reporting of hate crime. And the list of inaction continues.”
The MCB added that the “ineffective response to Islamophobia is reflected in the poor and perilous state of relations between government and Britain’s diverse Muslim communities.”