Following the attack on Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque, Prime Minister called for an end to anti-Muslim right-wing extremism.
Mehdi Hasan, a prominent Muslim British journalist, argues that May’s claim is contradictory with her own political history, which is steeped in support for Islamaphobic policy and tolerance of Islamaphobia in her Conservative party.
As Home Secretary, she largely ignored “hundreds” of incidents of anti-Muslim violent incidents while focusing intensely on the “Islamist” threat. She ignored a warning from an official in her department that this focus could foster right-wing violence. The official wrote, “I wouldn’t want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually, we should have addressed that as well.”
In 2014, she was an active voice in claiming that Birmingham schools were being taken over by Muslims “extremists” despite limited evidence of radicalisation.
As home secretary, she never formerly met with the Cross-Government Anti-Mulsim Hatred Working group. The inattention to this important issue from the Conservative government resulted in leading academics resigning from the group.
Former Conservative minister Sayeeda Warsi has been disappointed in the limited support the Conservative party has given her in fighting Islamaphobia. Hasan believes she is being polite and measured in her condemnation, as she has been almost entirely ignored.
As Prime Minister, she hired a political strategist who told the conservatives to ignore “[explitive] Muslims” and supported the allegedly Islamaphobic campaigns, such as that of Zac Goldsmith.
She is also accused of purposefully limiting the presence of both Muslims and Muslim-related issues in the party. As such, the author is sceptical that she will fight Islamaphobia effectively.
A petition calling for the government to ban anti-Islam group Britain First has prompted a statement from the Home Office condemning those who “seek to spread hate by demonising British Muslims”. More than 12,000 people and an anti-Islamophobia charity have now demanded ministers take action against the Christian conservative group.
The petition accuses Britain First of being an “extremist offshoot of the BNP”, adding: “Via the internet and social media the group spews out anti-Muslim propaganda in order to fulfil their goal of a ‘Holy War’ against the Muslim community in the UK. The UK government must proscribe this party before they achieve their aims.”
“We are a registered political party who campaign for British people to be put first in their own country. We are also a Christian movement who believe that Muslims are victims of a barbaric ideology; our Holy war is not ‘against the Muslim community in the UK’, it is against the extremes of Islam.”
She added that the 2014 comments cited in the petition – in which founding member Jim Dowson is quoted as saying the group was involved in a “crusade” – were outdated as Dowson had left the movement in 2014. Britain First leader Paul Golding revealed today (29 January) that Dowson would be speaking at an upcoming Britain First march in Dewsbury, however, describing him as an “outstanding orator”.
A response to the petition by the Home Office, published on 28 January, said while the government kept the list of proscribed organisations “under review” it would not confirm if it was considering banning Britain First.
But in what appears to be a swipe at the group, the Home Office added: “The government condemns those who seek to spread hate by demonising British Muslims. Those who seek to divide us damage our country by stoking anti-Muslim hatred and deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities.”
“I’ve been spat on in the street when I’ve worn my headscarf,” Sara Khan tells me. “I’ve been called ‘Osama Bin Laden’s wife’. I’ve had people come right up to my face effing and blinding – even when I was pushing my six-month-old daughter in her pram”.
Khan, who heads up anti-extremist organisation Inspire, is a female victim of Islamophobia in Britain. “It’s shocking. You’re just minding your own business. It’s completely unprovoked,” she adds. “It tends to happen after a terrorist incident, and you think, ‘what have I done?’ You feel angry you’re being associated with terrorists and extremists, but you also feel sad. It’s very dehumanising.”
Khan also tells me about one friend who had dog faeces put on her head, and another who was waiting at a bus stop, listening to her iPod and wearing a headscarf, when a man suddenly punched her. She was left with a black eye.
These are not isolated incidents. The Metropolitan Police has just released new statistics showing anti-Muslim hate crimes in Britain have risen by 70 per cent in the past year.
Tell Mama, an organisation that monitors Islamophobic attacks, says 60 per cent are directed at women, and happen on the street – as opposed to online.
Founder Fiyaz Mughal explains: “It’s because the more physical, abusive ones [attacks] are directed at visibility – which means the hijab (headscarf) and the niqab (full-face veil).
But Zia thinks the only real way to tackle Islamophobia is by changing British perceptions towards Muslims. “People think that women in full-face veils can’t speak English, but that’s simply not true. They think that women who wear the full-face veil are subservient. That they’re a danger; that they won’t interact with society. “We all need to have some responsibility in dispelling these myths and stereotypes. We need to get rid of the fear before we can live in far more tolerant society.”
Adding to Muslim concerns about safety, another veiled British Muslim mother was attacked and her hijab ripper off by a group of women when she went to collect children from a London primary school.
“They pulled my headscarf off and started punching and kicking me,” the mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Standard on Saturday, June 6.
“One was dragging my head down while the others were hitting me.
“They were being so racist and using derogatory terms.”
Problems started when the mother went to collect her children from school when she met three women who attacked by three women to started “shouting and hurling abuse” because of her hijab in Derby Road, Croydon, close to the private Islamic primary school Al-Khair in south London.
They allegedly asked if she was hot in the headscarf, before tearing it off and punching her. The attack left her with whiplash and chunks of hair missing, but with no significant physical harm.
Aiming to woo Muslim voters, the Tories announced plans to enforce new measure that would make anti-Muslim hate crimes as serious as anti-Semitic attacks, in case they won general elections next May 7. “We will require police forces to record anti-Muslim crimes as well as anti-Semitic crimes,” Home secretary, Theresa May, pledged in a speech on counter-extremism to the Foundation for Peace in London just before Parliament was dissolved, the Daily Mail reported. Under the new measures, police will be required to report Islamophobic attacks under a separate category like as anti-Semitic crimes.
The new proposal comes as Islamophobic attack across Europe reached unprecedented levels. It precedes elections in which Tories and Labours are competing to gain Muslim votes. According to TELL MAMA, the number of hate crimes targeting Muslim women has witnessed a 5-10% increase over the last 18 months. An earlier report by think-tank Chatham House identified a considerable Islamophobic sentiment in Britain, detecting a “wide reservoir of public sympathy for claims that Islam and the growth of Muslim communities pose a fundamental threat to the native group and nation.” Hundreds of anti-Muslim hate offences have been carried out across UK in 2013, with Britain’s Metropolitan police recording an increase of 49% more than 2012.
The British offshoot of German anti-“Islamisation” group Pegida held its first protest in London this afternoon, marching to Downing Street. Pegida UK said the rally intended to “raise awareness of the detrimental affect radical Islam and slack border controls/mass immigration are having on our country”.
Fewer than 100 supporters waving the Union Flag and St George’s cross were met by anti-fascist counter demonstrators as the two groups were separated by a heavy police presence. They traded songs, chants and insults across a line of officers as ambulances and riot police stood by to intervene. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the force had an “appropriate policing plan in place” and would close roads if necessary.
Pegida’s first demonstration in Scotland appears to have flopped, with unconfirmed reports from the police that only four supporters turned out. The right wing anti-islam umbrella group, which originated in Germany, had planned a march and demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday. Supports of Pegida were set to march from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station to a rally outside the Scottish Parliament with support from the Scottish Defence League.
A mass anti-racism march was held as a counter-protest, which included activists from Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF also held an anti-fascist march in Glasgow today. There was some doubt as to whether the Pegida demonstration took place at all, because counter-demonstrators report that its supporters were not visible. However, unconfirmed police reports that the demonstration did take place, despite the minimal turnout. Images on social media of the counter-demonstration indicate that the Pegida demonstrators were outnumbered by at least 50:1.
March 5, 2014
The Judge of a Barcelona Court, María Pilar Calvo, has condemned Jaime T., the website administrator of “denunciascivicas.com”, to two years in prison for inciting hate and violence against Islam and for disseminating anti-Islamic beliefs. The condemnation is the first Islamophobia related condemnation in Catalonia.
Denunciascivicas.com, which has received at least 21,240 visits, contains material praising the Third Reich in Germany. It also encourages readers to carry out similar crimes against Muslims.
Police arrested the IT administrator in March 2011 and seized all kinds of xenophobic paraphernalia, such as photos of Adolf Hitler and swastikas, along with numerous videos from his computer which show him making anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim speeches.
But the man’s two-year sentence judgment — the first for Islamophobia in Catalonia — may be suspended if the defendant agrees to attend a human rights course and does not commit a new crime within three years.
In Catalonia the legal framing of anti-racist and anti-xenophobic laws is defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, by the Autonomous Status of Catalonia, Organic law 6/2006 from 19 of July 2006 and by the Organic Law of 4/2000.
On September 11, Geert Wilders, the contentious Dutch politician who likened the Koran to Mein Kampf, spoke in New York on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He delivered a message, forewarning about the dangers of Islam and the building of a “ground-zero mega-mosque.”
Under the threat of death from radical Islamists, Geert, stated; “We who have come to speak today, object to this mosque project because its promoter and his wealthy sponsors have never suggested building a center to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding where it is really needed: In Mecca – a town where non-Muslims are not even allowed to enter, let alone build churches, synagogues, temples or community centers. So why should we do that?”
According to a forthcoming report, the past decade has seen a net increase of 275,000 in the number of Muslims who were born in Pakistan or Bangladesh but are now living in Britain. – the equivalent to twice the population of Oxford. The number of Somali-born UK residents has also risen sharply, from fewer than 40,000 in 1999 to 106,700 this year.
Many of the newcomers are part of a trend of onward migration from European Union countries, coming to the UK after being subject to “latent Islamaphobia” abroad, according to the report. “Migration has caused an increase in the proportions of the population affiliated to non-Christian faiths,” says the report.
The report “Faith, Migration and Integration in the UK” will be published in January 2010 by the left-of-centre think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), http://www.ippr.org.uk.