Muslims Face Greater Threat in Suburbs
Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of threats and intimidation in UK suburbs and local areas than in big cities, according to a report published.
Case studies revealed that examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a “terrorist” in front of her petrified daughter were not uncommon.
Such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police. She also played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress, and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim woman.
The new study, “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies,” reveals this kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur.
The report is part of a 10 year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society.
The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced. Findings show that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically.
Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-director of the EMRC, said: “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business. “Through our research we have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and small towns there is a feeling of being under siege. “Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials, ‘we can see this is bad, why don’t you move the mosque?’”
The report also analyses the local activity by the right-wing British National Party, English Defence League and sister organisations. Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied.
Dr Bob Lambert, co-director of the EMRC said: “Evidence has also indicated that the galvanising report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry changed police response to hate crimes. “Whereas, because the war on terror is viewed as a security risk, Muslims do not have the support that is now widely accepted in other areas of hate crime.
“Muslims are not requesting special treatment, just equal rights with their fellow citizens.” Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This type of behaviour is deplorable and we want to stop anyone who creates distrust and division in communities - wherever it is. “Everyone has the right to go about their daily business without fear of harm or intimidation. “We want Britain to become an integrated society.”