Face Increased Racist Attacks And State Harassment
By Mike Ingram
12 August 2005
figures on religious hate crimes have revealed a sixfold
increase in attacks, particularly against Muslims, since the July 7
There were 269 religious
hate crimes in the three weeks after July 7, compared with 40 in the
same period of 2004. Most of these were verbal abuse or minor assaults,
but there were also a number of mosques damaged and arson attempts.
In the worst incident, an Asian man in Nottingham died last month after
being found unconscious, reportedly after being racially abused by a
group of youths.
newspaper conducted a survey of police forces across Britain and found
a dramatic increase in the number of racist assaults since the July
bombings. The paper reported that as many as one in six of those
abused or attacked were not Muslim but were simply of an Asian appearance.
Far from being centred
on London, such incidents have been recorded across Britain. The survey
showed that forces such as West Yorkshire and West Midlands had seen
significant increases in race-hate crime. Attacks in South Yorkshire,
which includes Sheffield and Doncaster, leapt from 48 in the previous
July to 137. Those reported by West Yorkshire Police, which covers Leeds
and Bradford, leapt from 195 to 366. In the West Midlands, including
Birmingham, attacks increased by 46 percent, while Merseyside, including
Liverpool, saw an increase of 76 percent. Nationally, the figures rose
by 24 percent, from 3,355 to 4,160.
In Scotland, the
level of racist attacks rose from 359 to 438. According to the Independent,
The Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland said 64 could
be directly linked to the London attacks because of what was said
or written at the time of the incident.
The Islamic Human
Rights Commission, which before the July 7 attack was receiving about
5 reports of racist incidents a week, said it had received 320 complaints
of attacks on Muslims since the London bombings. Beena Faridi, a case
worker, told the Independent, It seems to be happening all over
the country. There is a feeling of fear on the streets.
Responding to the
police report, Professor Zaki Badawi, head of the Muslim College in
London and chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams, wrote: In
the present tense situation, with the rise of attacks on Muslims, we
advise Muslim women who fear being attacked physically or verbally to
remove their hijab [headscarf] so as not to be identified by those who
are hostile to Muslims.
A woman wearing
the hijab in the present circumstances could suffer aggression from
irresponsible elements. Therefore, she ought not to wear it. Dress is
meant to protect from harm not to invite it.
Having whipped up
the hysteria and xenophobia that has emboldened the racists, the government
has offered nothing to oppose such attacks other than cynical appeals
for respect and tolerance towards other cultures. But it has also banged
the drum for Muslims to prove their loyalty to Britain and commitment
to opposing Islamic extremistsas if the vast majority of British
Muslims were not already hostile to the terrorists. The Home Office
terrorism minister, Hazel Blears, suggested that there should be a discussion
about the re-branding of ethnic minorities and that terms
such as Asian British should be used, similar to terms such
as Irish American in the United States.
The police tried
to play down the significance of the increase. Metropolitan Police Authority
Chairman Len Duvall said that although any hate crime was not to be
tolerated, many incidents previously defined as race crimes were now
designated faith crimes, leading to a large percentage increase
from a very low base.
Tarique Ghaffur also stated that the rise was partly due to the fact
that faith hate crimes were now recorded separately from other racial
incidents. However the figures are reported, it can not be denied that
there has been an increase in racist activity since July 7. Ghaffur
revealed that in the first three days after terrorist attack, there
were 68 faith hate crimes in London alone.
that Muslims faced increased police harassment and were particularly
frustrated by the stepping up of stop-and-search operations and the
new shoot-to-kill policy, revealed following the state murder of Jean
Charles de Menenzes. There is no doubt that incidents impacting
on the Muslim community have increased, he said, warning, It
can lead to these communities completely retreating and not engaging
at a time when we want their engagement and support.
The police figures
were released as Blears held the first in a series of meetings with
Muslim groups across the country. Prior to the meeting, Blears pledged
that Muslims would not be discriminated against by police trying to
prevent potential terror attacks. She claimed counter-terrorism
powers are not targeting any community in particular but are targeting
Blears also opposed
police use of racial profiling, saying stop and searches should be based
on good intelligence, not just on skin colour.
will be of little comfort to the thousands of young Asian men who are
stopped and searched at Underground stations throughout the capital
to reassure young Muslims was undermined within days when Ian Johnston,
the chief constable of the British transport police, told the Mail on
Sunday that his force would not bottle out of intelligence-led
searches, which could target specific ethnic groups. He said his officers
would not be searching little old white ladies. Instead,
he said, It is going to be disproportionate. It is going to be
young men, not exclusively, but it may be disproportionate when it comes
to ethnic groups.
For their part,
the Conservative opposition has used the London bombings and the Labour
governments proposed measures to deport and exclude Islamic radicals
as an opportunity to push its own racist agenda. The Tory defence spokesman,
Gerald Howarth, said extremist Muslims should leave the country. There
can be no compromise with these people, he told The Scotsman.
If they dont like our way of life, there is a simple remedygo
to another country, get out.
When he was asked,
what if those people were born in Britain? he replied: Tough.
If you dont give allegiance to this country, then leave.
Tory party leader,
Michael Howard, said he stood by Howarths comments.