Nov 28 2010
UK MUSLIMS UNDER SIEGE?
On Islam – LONDON – Muslims and mosques in Britain’s suburbs endure hate and threats that are even worse than
what they face in big cities, but most of the hate crimes go unreported by intimidated Muslims and unacknowledged by fellow Britons, a new high-profile study warns.
“We have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and market towns there is a feeling of being under siege,” Dr. Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-author of the study “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies”, said in a press release received by Onislam.net.
The report, to be published on Saturday, November 27, is part of a 10-year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC).
“The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that informs the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced,” the authors said.
Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied.
The study has concluded that Muslims are usually safer in the city mixed neighborhoods.
In suburban places like Colchester, 97 km northeast of London, or Boston, on the east coast of England, life for smaller or isolated Muslim communities can be much more intimidating, the authors say.
“Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business,” said Githens Mazer, who is also co-director of the EMRC.
The report is the second by the EMRC about hate crimes against Muslims, as the first was launched in January 2010 and focused on life for Muslims in London.
It has found that Muslims suffered attacks which include murder, serious assaults and arson during 2009.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million.
The study offers an image of life for Muslims in British suburbs where bigotry against them goes largely unacknowledged.
It “captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognized by the media, politicians and wider British society,” the authors said.
“Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials, ‘we can see this is bad, why don’t you move the mosque?’’’
Many Muslim women were even punched and called “terrorist” in front of their terrified children.
The hate worsens due to the local activity by the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups like the British National Party, English Defense League and sister organizations said the report.
The UN human rights committee in 2008 disparaged Britain over growing anti-Muslim sentiments.
A Financial Times opinion poll has showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
Not only unrecognized by Britons, hate crimes against Muslims are not even reported by the victims, the report reveals.
For example, one of these women who were attacked in the street said that she was too scared to inform the police, and played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress.
“This kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur,” the authors said
The authors explained that the majority of anti-Muslim crimes are not reported to police either because of a lack of confidence in the police or because victims are unaware of a police interest.
“Evidence has also indicated that the galvanizing report of the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry changed police response to hate crimes,” noted Dr. Bob Lambert, co-author of the study and former head of the Muslims contact unit in Metropolitan police.
Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old student, was stabbed to death in London, on the night of April 22, 1993.
It soon became clear that the murder was motivated by racism the police failed to bring successful charges against five youths.
A public inquiry, called by the government, accused the police with corruption and incompetence, and passed about 70 legal recommendations to improve the police performance in hate crimes.
Lambert, who is also co-director of the EMRC, warns that Muslims need to find support within their own society in order to speak up.
“Whereas, because the war on terror is viewed as a security risk, Muslims do not have the support that is now widely accepted in other areas of hate crime.
“Muslims are not requesting special treatment, just equal rights with their fellow citizens.”
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