HATE attacks on Muslims in Britain quadrupled in the months after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby last year, a study by North-East academics has found.
Of the 734 anti-Muslim attacks reported to the Tell Mama charity hotline in a ten-month period to February this year, over half were in the two months after the drummer was stabbed to death in Woolwich in May 2013, the University of Teesside report shows.
Over half of the Islamophobic attacks in the period were committed against women, often targeted because they were wearing clothes people associate with Islam.
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The report is published by the university’s centre for Fascist, anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist studies - the first research unit of its kind in the UK dedicated to the study of the far-right and its violent opposition.
It also comes just days after the far-right English Defence League marched through the streets of Middlesbrough in protest at what it described as “Muslim grooming gangs”.
Report authors Dr Matthew Feldman and research assistant Mark Littler said they found Muslims were facing hate crime, both online and in the streets, on a daily basis.
Dr Feldman said: “Muslims remain amongst the most likely minority group in Britain to be targeted for a hate crime. ‘Trigger’ events like the murder of Drummer Rigby clearly magnify the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims simply for who they are and what they believe.”
The report was compiled based on data from the Tell MAMA phoneline project set up by Faith Matters, founded in 2005 with the aim of reducing extremism and inter-faith tensions.
While police and government figures show that hate crime incidents are generally falling, those against Muslims appear to have significantly increased since the Tell MAMA project was set up in 2012.
The new report shows that less than one in six people who reported incidents to Tell MAMA actually went to the police.
It also reveals that 60 per cent of perpetrators were aged between ten and 30 – suggesting anti-Muslim prejudice among a younger generation raised in the shadow of 9/11 and 7/7.
Nearly half of all online incidents were linked to far right organisations.
Dr Feldman said he was most concerned about the fact that hate crime was being under-reported.
Fiyaz Mughal OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, said: “We know we are only getting a snapshot of what’s happening, but it is clear that fear and apprehension is evident among Muslim women.”
The report, titled ‘Anti-Muslim Overview, Analysis and Cumulative Extremism,’ will be officially launched at an event on Friday 4 July, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, at the Old Shire Hall in County Durham.