The truth about the ‘wave of attacks on Muslims’ after Woolwich murder

Fiyaz Mughal runs a project called Tell Mama, which receives £214,000 a year from the Government to monitor anti-Muslim attacks in Britain. In the wake of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder, he has been understandably busy.

 

The media, especially the BBC, have accepted the claims without question. A presenter on Radio 4’s influential Today programme stated that attacks on Muslims were now “on a very serious scale”.

 

Talk of a “massive anti-Muslim backlash” has become routine. And it is that figure issued by Tell Mama – of, to date, 212 “anti-Muslim incidents” since the Woolwich murder – which has formed the basis of nearly all this reporting.

The unending “cycle of violence” against Muslims, the unprecedented “wave of attacks” against them from strangers in the street, the “underlying Islamophobia in our society” – all turn out to be yet more things we thought we knew about Woolwich that are not really supported by the evidence.

 

Although the service says its caseworkers “carefully handle each report as it comes in, to determine whether it can be verified and justified as an anti-Muslim incident”, Mr Mughal admitted that a further 35 of the 212 post-Woolwich incidents, or 16 per cent, had yet to be verified. He justified publishing the figure, however, saying he expected that all but a handful of incidents would be verified.

 

Fewer than one in 12 of the 212 “incidents” reported to Tell Mama since Woolwich – 17 cases (8 per cent) – involved individuals being physically targeted. Six people had things thrown at them, said Mr Mughal, and most of the other 11 cases were attempts to pull off the hijab or other items of Islamic dress.

 

Perhaps the most serious manifestation of anti-Muslim feeling after the killing was a number of attacks on mosques. These are believed to total 11, though here again evidence for a “wave of violence” is lacking. With only two exceptions, a mosque in Grimsby into which firebombs were thrown and another one in Essex where a man entered with a knife, all the incidents were relatively minor, such as window-breaking or graffiti.

 

According to the Charity Commission, there are between 1,100 and 1,500 mosques in the UK, so the number attacked is less than 1 per cent.

 

What the data broadly show, in short, is that Drummer Rigby’s killers have failed. The breakdown in community relations has not come. There has been a rise in incidents, but it appears to be very short-term, overwhelmingly non-violent and even then almost entirely at the lower end of the scale.

 

Yet this is not a message the Islamophobia industry wants heard, now or ever. Two months before the Woolwich killing, Tell Mama was already claiming that anti-Muslim incidents were “rising”, on the basis of reports made to its service. But at that point it had only been going for a year, so it had no previous figures to compare.

 

What evidence there is simply does not support the claims. There is anti-Muslim hatred in Britain, and it is disgraceful. But nearly all the evidence shows it is diminishing. In 2009 there were 368 anti-Muslim crimes in London; in 2012, there were 337. In the first 11 weeks of 2013, there were 64 crimes, equating at that point to 303 across the year, though the Woolwich attack will drive that up.

 

Broader political developments suggest a country increasingly at ease with Muslims. In 2009 the main anti-Islamic party, the BNP, had 55 councillors. Now it has two. The number of Muslim MPs doubled at the last election, some elected for entirely non-Muslim seats such as Bromsgrove, Gillingham, or Stratford-upon-Avon with no backlash whatever.

 

Interview with the president of PRUNE, the first Islamic party in Spain

The Party for the Renaissance and Union of Spain (PRUNE) is the first Islam-orientated political party in Spain. The Party was founded in Granada and party organizers are trying to present candidacies in three cities (Granada, Barcelona and Oviedo) for the next local elections in 2011. The article is an interview with Mustafá Bakkach El Aamrani, the president of PRUNE. In the interview, he explains the main points of their political program. He defines PRUNE as a party with an “Islamic orientation” much like the way “the Popular Party (PP) has a Christian orientation”. “This is different from an Islamic party”, Mustafá Bakkach adds. The PRUNE was legalized in July 2009. The party identifies itself as a conservative party which aspires to represent all the minorities of Spain.

Dutch Muslim party to stand for election in Venlo

Henny Kreeft, leader of the Dutch Muslim Party (NMP), announced Monday that the party will contest upcoming local council elections in Venlo, hometown of politician Geert Wilders. The vote, to be held November 18, 2009, is the result of redrawing council boundaries.

Four candidates – two with a Moroccan, one with a Turkish and one with a Pakistani background – will be on the NMP election list. The party hopes to win two seats, one from Labour and one from the green left GroenLinks party.

Kreeft told Telegraaf that running in Wilders’ hometown is a coincidence, stating ‘Venlo is very important for us’. The party plans to participate in nine local council elections next year.

Interview with Netherlands Muslim Party Leader Henny Kreeft

In an interview with Eren Güvercin, Netherlands Muslim Party (NMP) leader Henny Kreeft discusses his party’s hopes for upcoming elections as well as outlining its key points. “Apart from improving relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and investment in our young people, we also oppose the ban on the burkaas we believe a woman should be able to make a free choice whether she wears one or not” says Kreeft.

Addressing the NMP’s approach to Geert Wilders’ PVV party, Kreeft says, “Firstly, we have to explain that Islam does not equate with war, but that it is about peace, solidarity, family issues – and that Dutch Muslims just want to lead normal lives here, like everybody else. We intend to close the rift between Muslims and non-Muslims and to improve the negative image of Islam. Secondly, we have to invest in our future, and the most important way and probably the only way to do this is to invest in our youth.”

New Muslim Party in Antwerp

Two Antwerp residents are making plans to set up a leftist Islamic party with hopes of participating in the 2012 municipal elections.  The party – simply called “Moslem” is being created because its founders feel that the traditional parties neglect the local Muslim community, and call on them only when it is convenient for politicians, said Mohamed Sidi Habibi.  Habibi added: “We are a democratic party that has respect for the law; the law of Belgium and the law of Islam. The spirit of Islam has respect for everything that lives, and that is the heart of Green.”  The new party will also oppose the ban on headscarves for civil servants in Antwerp, saying that “that ban hinders the emancipation of women.”  Habibi’s comments were in reference to a wholly emancipated female Muslim doctor, who was rejected by the University of Antwerp when they were made aware that she wore a headscarf.

Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)