A new survey by Muslim Census and MEND has found that 42% of mosques or Islamic institutions have experienced religiously-motivated attacks in the last three years.
The survey of 114 Islamic centres revealed that 17% of mosques had faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshippers, including the stabbing of a muezzin in London Central Mosque in 2020.
Muslim Census and MEND also found that:
- Nearly two-thirds of mosques reported that the attacks had a negative impact on the wider community.
- Of those that reported an attack, only 55% of mosques were satisfied with the police response.
- Only one-third of mosques who applied for the government Places of Worship scheme received funding.
The most common form of attack experienced by mosques was vandalism followed by theft. Overall, 35% of mosques experienced a religiously-motivated attack at least once a year.
But several mosques said they were dubious about reporting an incident so as to mitigate any negative impacts – such as fear of attending mosques, reduction in community cohesion and loss of confidence in police action.
The survey also investigated the police response to such attacks – 55% of mosques reported not being satisfied with police responses, and 38% said no police action was taken.
Recently mosques and Muslim faith schools have been given access to £24.5 million for security measures to protect their premises through CCTV, secure fencing, intruder alarms, and the hiring of security guards.
“Whilst MEND appreciates that funding for public institutions cannot be given indiscriminately, we question whether such a complicated three-stage process is necessary and the degree to which mosques need to demonstrate that they have been victims of or are vulnerable to hate crimes in the future,” MEND said.
“It does not make sense for a mosque to have to become the victim of an attack to increase its chances of securing funding; the focus should be on preventing such attacks in the first place.”
Muslim Census and MEND are now recommending that the government streamlines the application process to make it easier for mosques to apply for security funding.
They are also calling upon the police to improve links with the Muslim community, to implement swift action when attacks occur, and to give a full explanation when no action is taken.