Lancashire mosques’ launches Islamophobia helpline

26th Feb 2016

Elham Asaad Buaras

An umbrella organisation representing mosques in Lancashire will operate a helpline for victims of Islamophobia starting from February 26 after a report by Lancashire University recommended third party assistance in the reporting of hate crime.

Lancashire Council of Mosques Chair, Abdul Hamid Qureshi, told The Muslim News that County Council and Lancashire Police found that victims of hate crime have a “general feeling that police can’t do anything, maybe the police can’t take action. We know that at times it’s difficult to solidify complaints by real proofs that can be upheld by the courts.”

“People trust Lancashire Council of Mosques and we provide a huge number of services,” he said.He also insisted the need for the helpline is not evidence of the community’s mistrust of the police. He said like any crimes that go unreported “multiple factors come into play such as fear of being questioned.”

He added that the helpline will “help determine the extent of Islamophobia.”The Lancashire Council of Mosques plans to publicise its helpline in more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools, which it has represented since 1989.

It will operate for four hours on weekdays and people can report any type of abuse from verbal to physical to staff, who have been trained by the police. The new helpline, which cost £4,000 to set up, is part funded by the police.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, said the issue of hate crime was one he took seriously.He said this was because “sometimes they report an incident and they are questioned about other things, so they don’t think there’s any point in reporting.”

Speaking about Islamophobia, Grunshaw said: “We want people to come forward. We’ve also launched Victims Voice to provide enhanced support.”It is believed to be the first hotline run by an organisation representing a group of mosques in the UK.

Principal Equalities and Cohesion Manager‪ at Lancashire County Council, Saeed Sidat, said, “It is an important step to have a dedicated anti-Muslim hate reporting helpline.”

 

 

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