110 Islamophobic hate crimes against places of worship in five months
ATTACKS and threats of violence directed at mosques have more than doubled since last year, damning figures show today.
Police forces recorded 110 hate crimes against Muslim places of worship across Britain between March and July this year, up from 47 over the same period in 2016.
Incidents of abuse include threats to “bomb the mosque” as well as the windows of buildings and parked cars being smashed.
Other forms of attack include offensive graffiti sprayed on buildings, violent assaults on worshippers, two cases of arson and two cases of bacon being left on door handles at mosques.
The true number of hate crimes directed at mosques is likely to be higher due to differences in how statistics are recorded by police and because not all police forces are included in the figures.
Some 25 forces saw a year-on-year increase in hate crimes directed at mosques, with the biggest rise reported by Greater Manchester Police (nine crimes, up from zero) and London’s Metropolitan Police (17 crimes, up from eight).
The investigation by the Press Association used data from 42 out of 45 forces that responded to freedom of information requests.
The figures emerged within weeks of separate incidents in which imam and surgeon Nasser Kurdy, who treated victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, was stabbed in the neck outside a mosque in Cheshire, and a 14-year-old boy was stabbed repeatedly in the face and neck outside a Birmingham mosque.
Other high-profile cases of hate crime at mosques this year include the Finsbury Park terror attack in June, an arson attack on a Manchester mosque in July that left the building gutted and the sending of white powder — feared at the time to be anthrax — and bomb threats to three mosques across London the same month.
While police found the powder to be harmless, Erkin Guney, a community leader and funeral director at Shacklewell Lane mosque in north London, said the threats were “heartbreaking.”
He said his mosque had seen “attacks by the BNP, pigs’ heads thrown at the door and buildings set alight” since his father founded the place of worship in the 1970s.
“I’m not concerned about myself, I’m concerned about the public and the people that come here,” Mr Guney added.
“We’ve got community events that take place here. Everyone comes, it’s not just about Muslims in the mosque.”
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell Mama, an organisation which documents hate crimes against Muslims in Britain, said the increase was a reflection of online abuse that has spilled onto the streets.
He recommended that the rise in hate crime be tackled with “consistent” sentencing of perpetrators, more education about hate crime and better online policing.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called the figures “deeply troubling.
“Politicians have a particular responsibility in the language they use, the policies they advocate and the climate they create,” she added.
“There should be a unanimous message that violence against any section of our society is unacceptable.”
Of at least 50 places of worship that applied for the most recent round of government funding for anti-hate crime security measures, which ended in June, almost half were mosques.
A Home Office spokesman said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it.”