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New report by Teesside University reveals true extent of anti-Islamic abuse

01 July 2014


Muslims are being attacked on a daily basis and children as young as 10 have been the perpetrators of some abuse – according to a new report by Teesside University’s Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies.

The report, compiled by Dr Matthew Feldman, a Reader in Teesside University’s School of Arts & Media, and Mark Littler, a Research Associate, is based on data from the Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) project set up by Faith Matters. It covers a 10 month period from the beginning of May 2013 to the end of February 2014.

During that time, there were a total of 734 self-reported cases of anti-Islamic abuse. This ranged from online abuse and threats, to street based assaults and extreme violence.

Significantly, there was a huge spike in reported incidents in the wake of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich in May last year.

The week following the Woolwich murder accounted for almost a fifth (17%) of all incidents reported to Tell MAMA in the ten month reporting period – with 127 incidents reported during that week alone. Almost half, 354, of the 734 incidents reported during the ten month period took place in May and June of 2013.

Dr Feldman, who is Co-Director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies, said there has been a troubling backlash against Muslim communities in the aftermath of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder.

He added: '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.'

Teesside University’s Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies is the first research unit in Britain dedicated to the study of the far right and its violent opposition and this is the second report it has compiled based on data from the Tell MAMA project set up by Faith Matters. Faith Matters was founded in 2005 with the aim of reducing extremism and inter-faith tensions.

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. Dr Feldman and Mark Littler will give an overview of the report and take questions from those in attendance.

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% of perpetrators were aged between 10 and 30 – suggesting anti-Muslim prejudice among a younger generation raised in the shadow of 9/11 and 7/7.

Of the 734 reported incidents, 599 of them were on-line abuse and 135 were off-line attacks. On average there were more than two cases reported every day between 1 May 2013 and 28 February 2014. Nearly half of all online incidents were linked to far right organisations.

The majority of victims (54%) who reported abuse to Tell MAMA were female and were often wearing items of clothing associated with Islam.

Dr Feldman said: 'This striking figure might indicate a greater willingness to report anti-Muslim attacks. Or, on the other hand, Muslim women could be seen as more visible targets because of the traditional clothing they wear such as the hijab or abaya.

'While Britain remains a place of inclusion, stubbornly high figures of anti-Muslim incidents also remain, and demand attention from policymakers and all people of goodwill in Britain alike.'

Fiyaz Mughal OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, said anti-Muslim attacks, especially against women are under-reported.

He added: '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.'

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