Britain’s largest mainstream Muslim organisation will today call for “robust action” to combat Islamophobic attacks amid fears of growing violence and under-reporting of hate crimes.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) will challenge the “ethnic profiling” of members of its community, claiming that minorities are 42 times more likely to be targeted under the Terrorism Act.
MCB secretary-general Farooq Murad will tell the council’s AGM in Birmingham that there must be more monitoring of anti-Muslim crimes in response to incidents including violent assaults, death threats and the desecration of graves. He will also complain that not enough is being done to encourage communities to report crimes to the police.
The calls, supported by leading academics, a counter-terrorist think-tank and Muslim groups, come as the Metropolitan Police confirmed a total of 762 Islamophobic offences in London since April 2009, including 333 in 2010/11 and 57 since this April. A spokesman said the Met was aware of “significant” under-reporting of hate crime, and acknowledged “missed opportunities” to keep victims safe.
Despite rising concerns about the impact of hate crime on all communities, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said that data on such offences are not collated centrally as this would be an “overly bureaucratic process for local forces”. Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, who leads the police on hate crime, was unavailable for comment.
In his speech, Mr Murad is expected to warn that attacks are increasing. “Islamophobic attacks, on persons and properties, are committed by a tiny minority, but the number of incidents is increasing. Robust action is necessary and this means we must have a systematic manner of recording, monitoring and analysing such attacks. Only a small number of police forces record anti-Muslim hate crimes.”
He will claim that figures collated from only two police forces indicate 1,200 Anti-Muslim crimes in 2010, as opposed to 546 anti-Semitic crimes from all the police forces in the UK.
Muslims from across the country have reported attacks on imams and mosque staff, including petrol bombings and bricks thrown through windows, pigs’ heads being fixed prominently to entrances and minarets, vandalism and abusive messages.
Mr Murad will tell the gathering at the Bordesley Centre: “It is not a piece of cloth on someone’s head or face, the shape of someone’s dress, a harmless concrete pillar on a religious building or even not speaking a common language that creates alienation.”
Dr Robert Lambert, co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre and research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, said a decade of research will report before the 10th anniversary of 11 September. His report will provide comprehensive figures on attacks on mosques, Islamic organisations and Muslim institutions, while avoiding confusion over race-related or random attacks.
Dr Lambert, a former counter-terrorism police officer, said problems over data collection stemmed from a lack of political will, rather than from the police efforts – and that the onus was on Muslim communities to emulate the “outstanding” data collection around anti-Semitic crimes conducted by the Community Security Trust.
He added: “When I was working in the police, some of the notable spikes in incidents came after terrorist events such as 9/11 and 7/7. We have more than 50 incidences of fire-bomb attacks and we have yet to reach the 10-year anniversary. But no leading politician has seen fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with mosque leaders. That is quite something.”
Some 40 to 60 per cent of the mosques, Islamic centres and Muslim organisations in the UK have suffered at least one attack since 9/11.