Huffpost UK uk
Jessica Elgot Headshot

Women Targeted In Anti-Muslim Attacks, More Than Half By Far Right Groups, Tell MAMA Report Says

Posted: Updated:

Far-right extremists are responsible for more than half of all attacks on Muslims, with women increasingly targeted in more than half of all Islamophobic hatred, a survey has found.

More than 600 attacks on Muslims were reported since March 2012, from a five-year-old child who was hit by a car to an 89-year-old pensioner, according to the UK's official anti-Muslim violence helpline and charity Tell MAMA.

In one incident in Nottinghamshire, a family was forced from its home, after they had a pork-wrapped wooden cross placed outside their home, their mother abused in the street and smoke blown into the face of a child by an elderly man, after moving into a middle-class Nottinghamshire village.

muslim attacks

A Muslim woman leaves the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden

The majority of those physically attacked on the street, harassed or intimidated were Muslim women, 58% of incidents.

"In one such case reported to us," Fiyaz Mughal, co-ordinator of Tell MAMA and director of Faith Matters said, "a pregnant woman and her husband were assaulted, leaving their children in terror".

In another, a five-year-old girl, walking with her mother in Islamic dress, was knocked down in a hit-and-run incident by a car. The report said: "Although the mother was screaming, no-one came to see if she needed help even though there were plenty of people passing by in cars.

"Mrs X is clear that the individual who drove the vehicle saw both her and her daughter and deliberately failed to stop. The mother’s race and her religious attire indicated that she was a Muslim."

"In south London, a Somali lady had dog faeces placed on her head by a white youth, which she only noticed after entering a local shop. These awful incidents must stop, and they must stop now."

Anti-Muslim hate online makes up the vast majority of the attacks, 74%, with high-profile Muslims like Baroness Warsi and Jemima Khan targets. The report cited one attack on Khan on Twitter, referring to Khan’s son, on Twitter user wrote: “pure trailer trash, suppose you are grooming him 2b a suicide bomber……that’s wat ye MUSLIMS do. #verminpaki#”

Around 6% involve attacks on mosques or people's homes.

Four separate attacks against the Altrincham Mosque took place over the course of three weeks. The mosque authorities told Tell MAMA "During the night of Saturday 31st March 2012 someone threw a rock through a window in our mosque and broke the glass. The broken glass was strewn all over the carpet of the mosque where people pray.

"Over the last several years we have had a number of similar incidences, as well as graffiti, attempted arson and the mosque signs being broken."

The report's authors said police were failing in their duty to protect people, and said the statistics "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 can have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives."

The perpertrators are usually young, white men, with 54% of them linked to far-right groups like the English Defence League or British National Party.

Tell MAMA said they were disappointed at a lack of police action on Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Lennon, the EDL leader, who they claim to have made over 40 complaints about.

Mughal said the police needed to do far more. "The police frequently fail to take victim statements, fail to appreciate the terrifying effects of these incidents upon women and vulnerable children.

"Few police forces even bother to record Islamophobia as part of their reporting systems. More training is needed at a time when police are facing budget cuts; we need more leadership too from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which, unhelpfully, has talked about fewer rather than more social media prosecutions.”

edl

Members of the English Defence League gesture as they march through Bristol

“Recent history shows us what happens if we allow our fears to run unchecked. Demonisation of ‘the Other’, misguided beliefs that Muslims are somehow a monolithic block, unchecked lies that Islam is a violent religion or that British Muslims wish to abuse white girls must be challenged.”

He called for threats of violence online and "broadband extremism" to be taken more seriously by government, and be brought under the remit of the Home Office, rather than the Department for Communities and Local
Government, which works on the ‘softer’ end of issues affecting communities.

He also pointed the finger at the press and bloggers for "negative, McCarthy-like narratives."

Julian Bond, director Christian Muslim Forum said the statistics "show that there is still much work that needs to be done in countering negativity towards Muslims by organisations like this, and our own."

Baroness Warsi, who is the minister of State for Faith and Communities, said in a statement: "Reporting incidents and recording them, as MAMA does, is crucial to tackling this problem.”

CASE STUDY

A Somali lady who wears a hijab was walking on a street near Tooting Broadway in south London when she felt something lightly touching her head. Thinking nothing of it she carried on, thinking perhaps that her hijab might have caused the sensations.

Turning into a shop to buy some water, she headed to the fridge and noticed that people were looking at her in a funny way.

She described how, having worn the hijab and the black Abaya (a body covering mainly worn by women from the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia), she was used to derogatory looks. It was then that it hit her.

A smell overwhelmed her, filling her nostrils, soon followed by an innocent comment from a young child: “Mummy, that woman has poo on her head.”

Without her knowing, someone had placed dog faeces on her head. Shocked and in a state of high anxiety and humiliation, she fled the shop, pulled off her hijab and walked the long way home (she didn’t feel able to use public transport). She later reported the incident to the helpline.