Hate Crime Action plan fails to address Islamophobia

26th Aug 2016
Hate Crime Action plan fails to address Islamophobia

Ala Abbas

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has launched the Hate Crime Action Plan which calls on communities across Britain to “come together and stand united against those who use hate to divide us.”

Under the plan, which was launched on July 26, there will be a new assessment of the level of racist, religious and homophobic bullying going on in schools and a new programme to equip teachers to “facilitate conversations” when terrorist incidents happen at home and abroad. The new measures will also address the high incidence of hate crimes on public transport.

The Home Office will “launch a £2.4m scheme for protective security measures at vulnerable faith institutions” according to the Hate Crime Action plan. “New funding will be made available for the security of all faith establishments, including mosques.” The Jewish community get special allocation to protect their community. There will be a “commitment to the security of independent and state-aided Jewish faith schools, synagogues and other Jewish community sites with £13.4m of funding in 2016/17.”

No specific funds have been allocated to mosques and Muslim community sites, despite the number of hate crimes over the past year being disproportionately aimed at Muslims. According to the Metropolitan Police, Islamophobic hate crimes rose by 43 per cent in the last 12 months.

It is impossible to know the exact figures because of the problem of under-reporting. Islamophobic hate crime has seen the biggest percentage increase over the last 12 months compared to any other crime in the capital. The third highest percentage increase occurred in “racist and religious” hate crime, a category that can also include Islamophobic attacks.

This was acknowledged in a report by True Vision in February this year which found that race and religion are often interlinked when it comes to anti-Muslim hate speech.

Despite the huge spike in Islamophobic incidents over the past year, police action on hate crime has gone down. Official data from the Crown Prosecution Service has shown a 10 per cent decrease in police referrals of hate crime for charging in 2015/16.

According to a study of 40 police forces in England and Wales by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the total numbers of reported hate crimes soared by 20% over the past year (from 50,288 to 60,225), with 34 out of the 40 forces recording a rise in offences. Despite this increase, fewer cases have been dealt with than in the previous year. Just 27% of hate crimes recorded by police resulted in an outcome such as a charge, summons, caution or restorative justice in 2015/16, compared with 35% the year before.

When it comes to Islamophobic abuse online, there is a targeted campaign by mainly far-right groups. Imran Awan, a researcher at Birmingham City University, examined 100 different Facebook pages, posts and comments between January 2013 and November 2014 and uncovered nearly 500 instances of anti-Muslim hate speech.

The report entitled ‘lslamophobia on Social Media: A Qualitative Analysis of Facebook’s Walls of Hate’ identified “5 walls of Islamophobic hate” directed at Muslims online, which included seeing Muslims as terrorists and rapists, depicting Muslim women as threats to national security and suggesting all Muslims should be deported. The study also found that the pejorative terms “Muzrats, Paki, Peado, Rapists, Dirty, Scum and Filthy” were among the 20 most commonly used to describe Muslims during online tirades.

This abuse was intensified and triggered by events in the news. According to Awan, “the worry is that these online groups and communities will use this support to foster an offline extremist counter-narrative”.

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