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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

More money for British mosques amid rise in hate crime

Government allocates funds to protect religious sites

Muslims join others during a vigil at Potters Fields Park in London to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market in 2017. Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP
Muslims join others during a vigil at Potters Fields Park in London to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market in 2017. Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP

Britain will spend almost £1 million (Dh4.85m) to protect dozens of places of worship to tackle a continued rise in hate crime.

Sites including nine churches, 22 mosques and 12 Sikh gurdwaras will receive £800,000, while a programme to take on hate crime will provide £1.5m to groups that challenge prejudice.

A review launched on Monday by the law commission will also consider widening the offence to include ageism, misogyny and misandry, or hatred towards men.

The UK reported a 17 per cent increase in hate crimes over the past year, with 94,098 incidents recorded by police, up from about 40,000 reported in 2012.

The increase is in part due to “certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks” last year, the report said.

The government said Muslims were disproportionately the focus of hate crimes, with about 52 per cent of incidents aimed at the community.

“Hate crime goes directly against the long-standing British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect – and I am committed to stamping this sickening behaviour out,” said Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary. “Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

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Mr Javid said he had been the victim of hate crimes, even after taking office.

“I have been called a coconut, an Uncle Tom and much worse,” he wrote in a newspaper article.

“I was sent a ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letter. No matter who you are, these attacks have a personal effect.”

Days earlier, a man pleaded guilty to sending such letters to mosques and Muslim public figures, including MPs, over summer.

It is hoped the plan will encourage those more likely to be the targets of such crimes to recognise and report them, especially taxi drivers and door staff.

There are five types of hate crime under British law – race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability.

The minister for communities, James Brokenshire, said the funding was aimed at solving underlying causes of prejudice.

Labour MP David Lammy tied the rise to political rhetoric, citing former foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s recent comments over the burqa.

"The extent to which hate crimes have risen in recent years is shameful. It comes from the very top. Divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from politicians and leaders trickles down into abuse and violence on our streets,” he said.

"It is no surprise that Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women who wear veils rose in the days following Boris Johnson’s 'letterbox' insult. Similarly, it is no coincidence that the type of anti-immigrant language used by some mainstream politicians has corresponded with spikes in hate crimes."