Results from survey from a UK anti-Muslim violence helpline paint a harrowing picture for Muslims living in Britain today.
Muslims are being physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith according to a report by TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) campaign Victims have included children as well as pensioners in their 80s. Even Baroness Warsi, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and socialite and journalist Jemima Khan, have been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by TELL MAMA.
The organisation which was set up with Government backing at the end of February by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, has chronicled over 140 cases to date.
Approximately 75% of the cases involve female victims, with far-right party and group members linked to one-third (33%) of all incidents.
The helpline records a disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said, "My colleagues and I have been shocked at the amount of hate that is online, particularly anti-Muslim prejudice and racial hate.
"We have seen enormous activity, by both men and women, who think that pouring out this prejudice, some of it highly inflammatory, is somehow acceptable.
“They seem to think that by posting online they can simply walk away from their actions. We will ensure that as far as possible they are held to account by the appropriate authorities.
Mughal said that the majority of those physically attacked were Muslim women, wearing either wear the hijab (covering their head out of religious beliefs) or niqab (full face covering).
"In one such case reported to us," he said, "a Somali woman walking down the road had dog faeces placed on her head by a young white male, which was only noticed after she entered a local shop. In another, a Muslim woman and her family have been repeatedly harassed by white neighbours, in an escalating series of incidents leading to serious assault."
Many of the incidents being perpetrated are carried out by white men in their 20s to 50s, specifically targeting Muslim women.
There have been clusters of attacks in London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester area, plus Luton. This may be due to higher concentration of Muslims in those areas – the picture will become clearer as the project progresses.
The findings also claim that there appears to be far-right involvement in one third (33%) of all cases recorded so far.
A further quarter of cases involved dissemination of anti-Muslim literature. There have also been hate calls recorded to the line itself. One caller rang the helpline 14 times and threatened staff repeatedly.
Fiyaz Mughal added, “There remains much more work to do,”
“This project was funded for a year and given the successes made and the amount of anti-Muslim prejudice, we hope that our backers (initially the Government) will reconsider their decision not to back us beyond that point – or that other donors will come on board to support what we believe is a vital project."
Nick Lowles, chief executive of the HOPE not hate network said, “These interim results from TELL MAMA give lie to the claims by the EDL’s leadership that they are somehow just opposed to ‘Islamic extremism’. The actions of their supporters clearly show the level of hatred, and cowardice, they show to Muslims – particularly vulnerable Muslim women.
“As research has shown recently, Muslims are in fact better-integrated in British society than many have traditionally understood or believed. We must improve monitoring particularly of online hate, and improve community relations at all levels in society. I just hope that the Government will continue to support this important initiative.”