The number of race hate crimes reported in South Wales more than doubled in aftermath of the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, we can reveal. In the two weeks after the 25-year-old soldier died in May, South Wales Police recorded 60 racially aggravated hate crimes and 108 racially aggravated incidents. This compares to 26 racially aggravated hate crimes and 52 racially aggravated hate incidents logged by officers in the same fortnight last year. Hate incidents are defined by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) as any incident that is “perceived by the victim” to be racist.
Such was her concern of a backlash, Cardiff University psychology student Ola Ashi told WalesOnline she took up kick-boxing to better defend herself. The 21-year-old cited how bacon was left outside a Cardiff mosque the day following the soldier’s murder and offensive graffiti daubed on city walls. Speaking about the figures, Ola, who fortunately has not been targeted by racists, said: “They go against what I myself have experienced – but not against what I’ve seen and heard.”
Saleem Kidwai, secretary of the Muslim Council of Wales, aired fears of rising inter-faith tensions in the wake of Fusilier Rigby’s death. “We were expecting the backlash so the figures aren’t really surprising,” he said. Mr Kidwai said the figures – which equate to more than four crimes and seven incidents being recorded every day – may be the tip of the iceberg as more could have gone unreported. “Hopefully the figures for the following month will be the same as the year before,” he said. “Things have settled down and while it’s very difficult to say whether it was a one off, we haven’t received any reports recently.”
Fiyaz Mughal, of interfaith charity Faith Matters, previously told how the organisation had seen a growing number of anti-Muslim incidents across the UK. He described how in one case, a young Cardiff schoolgirl was spat at as she got off a bus and warned of an apparent increase in abuse sent via social media.