Nationalist demonstrators shout at Muslim demonstrators in London in Feb 2015 – Reuters
Islamophobic crimes in London have risen by 70% in the past year, according to new figures released by the Metropolitan Police.
Around 816 hate crimes against Muslims were recorded July 2014-July 2015, which is quite high when compared with 478 for the previous 12-month period. The cases reviewed include incidents of cyberbullying, assaults and extreme violence.
While the Met’s statistics didn’t include gender, Tell MAMA, a U.K.-based organization that monitors Islamophobic attacks, found 60% of the victims were women. Of them, women wearing a face veil were targets of more serious abuse.
“We also realized quite early on that women who wear niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents – there was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of the group, told BBC.
Westminster saw the highest number of incidents in the year 2014-15 with 54 Islamophobic crimes, according to Scotland Yard. However, Merton witnessed the biggest surge, going from eight incidents during July 2013-July 2014 to 29 in the subsequent 12-month period – which is an increase of 263%.
While this year’s figures show a significant increase, rising Islamophobia in the U.K. is not a new phenomenon, judging by the fact that a similar report came out in 2013 as well as the following year.
Hundreds of anti-Muslim offenses were carried out across the country, especially after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, southeast London. Britain’s Metropolitan police recorded 500 Islamophobic crimes in 2013, up from 336 in 2012 and 318 in 2011.
Things got worse in 2014 due to the emergence of Islamic State as well as local incidents like the Rotherham grooming scandal in which more than 1,400 children were abused over a period of 16 years by mainly “Asian” men.
However, instead of coming up with plans to counter anti-Islamic sentiment, the British government proposed new counter-terrorism measures that would require nursery school staff to report any toddlers who they believe are at risk of being terrorists.
Instead of singling out 3-year-olds over fears of radicalization, U.K. officials should perhaps start paying attention to the stats by the Met police and come up with effective steps to combat crimes that are actually taking place in the city.