Tackling Islamophobia

5 December 2010
In this op-ed, Robert Lambert calls on the long-overdue proper debate on anti-Muslim violence and intimidation:
“The new all-party parliamentary group investigating Islamophobia will need to encourage the coalition government to tackle anti-Muslim violence and intimidation as a matter of urgency. Too many victims have suffered in silence and without remedy since the phenomenon became widespread after 9/11 to allow even a day’s delay.
The violence – ranging from murder, grievous bodily harm, petrol bombings, political violence through to death threats and vandalism – has remained largely hidden and unremarked outside of the communities where it occurs for the best part of a decade.
What motivates the violence? Just as a minority of journalists feel licensed to denigrate Muslims in a way they would not dream of doing to any other faith or ethnic minority community so too a minority of gangs and individuals commit violence against Muslims and their places of worship and congregation in the mistaken but often honestly held belief that they are attacking ‘Muslim terrorists’ or ‘extremists’. Invariably this motivation can be traced back to influential media commentators and politicians – not solely to the British National Party and the English Defence League. (…)”

UK study highlights anti-Muslim hate crimes

28 November 2010

An alarming picture of the physical violence, intimidation and discrimination faced by many of Britain’s two million Muslims on a daily basis, was portrayed yesterday in new academic research.

The 224-page report from the European Muslim Research Centre, based at the University of Exeter, said that the bulk of incidents went unreported by communities who had lost faith in the authorities to do anything about them.

Released at a conference yesterday at the London Muslim Centre, the report called for “urgent” government action to tackle the problem after years of neglect.

Part of a 10-year study into Islamophobia throughout Europe, the report represented “an insight into the grim reality of a lived experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where it occurs”.

Authors of the report, Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Robert Lambert, the co-directors of the research centre, said in their introduction: “We argue in this report that much anti-Muslim violence in the UK is predicated on the rhetoric and practice of the ‘war on terror’ that George Bush and Tony Blair launched against ‘an evil ideology’ in the aftermath of 9/11.”

Report on anti-Muslim hate crime published by new British research center

The University of Exeter has launched a new European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). The center aims to shed light on Islamic issues that are in danger of being ignored because of negative media reports on Islam and “vociferous sections of the media and populist politicians”. Instead, the EMRC focuses on topics like anti-Muslim hate crime. Dr. Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Dr. Robert Lambert of the University of Exeter co-authored the center’s first report: “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: a London Case Study”.

The report finds that Muslim Londoners face a threat of violence and intimidation from three groups. First from a small violent extremist nationalist milieu that has broadly the same political analysis as the British National Party (BNP). Second from London gangs who have no allegiance with or affinity to the BNP. Third from a small number of Londoners and visitors to London who appear to be acting on prejudices gained via negative media portrayals of Muslims as terrorists and security threats.