JUST Yorkshire strongly condemns the growing level of Islamophobic abuse, hostility and terrorist threat facing the Muslim community in the UK at this present time. We urge the Government to use the same national framework used by our security services to assess levels of threat for terrorism, to now also be used for Islamophobia monitoring. We believe that this rating will assure the Muslim community that they are being treated with equity by our security services when dealing with terrorism and hate. Moreover it will provide a clear message to the perpetrators of such crimes that the liberty and freedoms of Muslims will not be compromised in the UK and intelligence is being routinely gathered to tackle this escalating threat faced by Muslims.
We note, following the Manchester terrorist attack according to figures supplied by Tell Mama UK there was a five-fold increase in Islamophobic attacks. Yet we are still unsure of the actual figures of Islamophobia incidents being both reported and recorded by security agencies, nor of any prevention strategies that are currently in place. In this regard, we would encourage Government at local and national level to openly share and speak about the actual framework that is currently being used to monitor, record and evaluate the number of actual Islamophobic incidents taking place in the UK.
Additionally, we are particularly concerned that Met police data continues to show a significant increase in Islamophobic incidents year on year, since 2013, resulting in more recently 1260 recorded in 2017. However we are yet to see a counter strategy in place to halt this worrying trend of growing intolerance towards the Muslim community, which if not implemented as a priority may have dire consequences for civil society in the future.
Other statistics we have seen show that there are nearly 7,000 anti-Muslim hate crimes a year; Sufyan Ismail of MEND reports in the Independent that there were 143,920 anti-Muslim or Anti-Islamic tweets between March 2016-March 2017 – an average of 393 tweet incidents a day. Couple this with the analysis from ChildLine that shows Muslim children seem to be bearing the brunt of a 69 percent increase in playground racism with terms like “bomber” and “terrorist” commonly used – taken together, all of this points towards a heightened threat.
Add to this the fact that more than a third of incidents reported to the government’s anti-terrorism programme are now people that are feared to have extreme right wing views. Evidentially this provides a bleak picture of where the UK is at the present time, and the threat facing civil society and particularly the liberties of the UK Muslim community.
Our concern is that we are yet to see a national anti-islamophobia strategy that can challenge the causal issues of why Islamophobia is escalating at the level it is, nor are we confident that the Government has in place a strategy that assures Muslim that all levels of Islamophobia will be recorded effectively by local authorities and police forces across the UK and decisive action is taking place. Most worryingly, though it is acknowledged that the Muslim community is the biggest victim of terrorism in the UK and across the world, there does not seem to be the intelligence framework nor the appetite to put in place specific actions to halt the escalating levels of intolerance towards Muslims; rather the default strategy seems to be one of containment.
Nadeem Murtuja, Chair of JUST Yorkshire stated,
“We are calling on the Government to immediately pull together a task-force, and hold a national conference inviting all chief constables and key stakeholders to come together to A) understand the scale of the threat facing the UK Muslim community, and b) pull together a specific strategy for Islamophobia, that focuses on confidence building, reporting, recording of Islamophobia, and tackling both the root causes and consequences of Islamophobia, particularly the growing extreme right wing populous.
Moreover, I am particularly concerned that whilst we have observed tragic murders, assaults and many abuses on Muslims from across different regions of the UK, for some time now, we don’t seem to be learning lessons from these incidents/crimes to prevent them in the future. I am deeply worried that the latest hate/terror attacks outside Finsbury and those suffered by Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Mukhtar may give birth to a new kind of hate/terrorism activity through the active use of acids. In this regard, I urge both the security forces and the Home Secretary to consider licensing all dangerous acids and substances – so that use of such substances can be monitored.
More fundamentally we at JUST are keen to support the Home Secretary to develop the national framework from a grassroots up, though we must be invited to do so first.”