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Almost half of mosques attacked in the UK

29th Jul 2022
Almost half of mosques attacked in the UK

(Photo credit: MuslimCensus-x-MEND)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Almost half of all mosques and Islamic institutions in the UK have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years and just over half (55 per cent) of them were satisfied with the police response, according to a disturbing report conducted by the Muslim Census with the support of Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).

The findings of the report, titled A National Survey: Attacks Upon Mosques and Islamic Institutions in the UK, are supported by Home Office data, which reveals that between March 2020 and March 2021, 45 per cent of all religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims.

The Home Office figure has been largely consistent in recent years, and much greater than for any other religious community.
The survey, one of the first detailing Islamophobic hate crimes towards mosques, has found that 42 per cent of all mosques or Islamic institutions surveyed have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years.

The report, which was released on June 27, concluded that vandalism, followed by theft, is the most common form of attack on mosques.

One-third of mosques that have experienced an attack in the last 3 years have also experienced physical assault – including the stabbing of an imam.

And a third of mosques experience a religiously-motivated attack at least once a year. A further 15 per cent of mosques reported an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those mosques that experienced a religiously-motivated attack or threat of attack, 85 per cent notified the police.

Places of Worship (POW) funding was awarded to just four per cent of mosques by the Government.

In 51 per cent of mosque attacks, vandalism is the most common attack type. Other mosques reported individuals breaking windows, vandalising worshipers’ vehicles, and spraying racist graffiti on the mosque building.

Online abuse was also reported by 32 per cent of mosques, describing threats of physical violence on social media platforms as well as general abuse.

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, 17 per cent of mosques have faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshippers. One mosque reported that an imam was stabbed outside the front entrance. Overall, 35 per cent of mosques experience a religiously-motivated attack at least once a year.

Attacks on mosques are common occurrences in the UK, peaking after the Christchurch shootings in March 2019, which killed 51 people and injured 40.

And amidst the COVID pandemic, the Islamophobic crimes did not cease. This was with the arson attack against Didsbury Mosque in Manchester and stones and eggs pelted at worshippers of Ilford Islamic Centre. Recently, during Ramadan, a mosque was attacked by a group armed with bottles and hockey sticks.
Only 55 per cent of mosques were satisfied with the police response after the attacks.

After the findings of this report have been made public, MEND has now called upon the police to improve links with their local Muslim community and mosques. This includes implementing swift action when such attacks occur, and having a full explanation given when no action is taken. MEND is also encouraging the mosque community to continue applying for the funding, despite the figures for receiving mosque funding remaining low.

Providing evidence of vulnerability to hate crime was the most commonly cited reason for making it difficult to apply, with 50 per cent of mosques giving this reason. This was followed by contributing 20% of the costs to security measures, which would likely affect smaller mosques that are less able to contribute such costs.

In a statement to The Muslim News, a MEND spokesperson said that “only a third of mosques who applied for the Government

Places of Worship funding received it. Considering that the government data shows that nearly half of all religiously motivated hate crimes are directed at Muslims, we question the degree to which mosques should need to demonstrate that they have been or can be potential victims of hate crime. We appreciate that funding cannot be given indiscriminately, but a complicated three-stage process may deter mosques from applying for such funding.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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