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Anti-Muslim hate crime on the rise says Newcastle councillor

24th Nov 2017

Elham Asaad

A Newcastle councillor has warned that religious hatred is on the rise as Nazi symbols are found daubed in a Newcastle street last month. The graffiti, which read ‘f*** Muslims’, next to a Swastika symbol, was discovered on a street in Sandyford, east of the city centre on October 6.

Councillor Dipu Ahad says the disgusting image was flagged up to him by concerned residents. A spokesperson for Northumbria Police confirmed: “enquiries are ongoing.”

Ahad claimed it was an extreme symptom of the Islamophobia and anti-Semitism which he believes has increased over recent years.

He said: “This isn’t just kids messing about, this is somebody who knows they’re using the Nazi sign, they know what they are talking about and it’s serious. The biggest problem we see is hate against religions, you can’t deny the fact that these are people who are targeting religions. “People talk about race, but we have to look at anti-Semitism and hate for Muslims, it’s not exactly the same as racism, and it has to be looked at in a different way.”

He added: “[The graffiti is] disgusting, but it’s also a learning experience – we should be disgusted but we also need to talk about what’s going on behind this, as a city we need to talk about why this happened. We need to be looking at how to educate people about this sort of hatred.”

Ahad told The Muslim News he has come in contact with many people who have been targeted as a result of their religion, but many do not report it. “Unfortunately many victims feel that Islamophobic incidents are meant to happen they accept it as a reality of life” while others voiced experience of “the police will not tackle Islamophobic crimes as seriously or with compassion”.

Ahad also voiced his alarm at the news the North East has the highest far-right activity in the country, accounting for 21 percent of all right-wing referrals to Prevent and called for a regional hub to tackle the rise in hate-crimes and where people can report incidents.

A new report released earlier this month revealed race hate crime in the North East has reached record levels post-Brexit. In the Northumbria area, there were 398 incidents in the July to September period, up 48 percent on the three month period in the run-up to the EU referendum vote on June 23.

The 48 percent figure represents the highest hate crime increase in the region in a quarterly period since comparable records began in April 2012. And Northumbria saw the 11th largest rise in the 44 police forces areas in England and Wales covered in the research.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the findings suggested a small number of people used the EU Referendum vote, on June 23, “to legitimise inexcusable racism and prejudice”.

The charity Victim Support said that more needed to be done to encourage victims to come forward, as the UK prepares to trigger Article 50 to leave the EU in the wake of the Brexit vote. The new analysis shows a rise in incidents was seen in almost every force in England and Wales, both year-on-year and when comparing the three months either side of the referendum.

Teesside heavily backed a Leave vote in the referendum – more than 60% across all constituencies – with the Brambles Farm and Thorntree ward in Middlesbrough the most ‘Pro-Leave’ in the country. And data shows that in the 36 force areas where the majority of voters backed Brexit, hate crime figures rose in all but two.

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