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Attacks against Muslims soar in London

The police said a rise in Islamophobic attacks across London could be attributable to better reporting of crime
Muslim women arrive at the Regent's Park Mosque on the Eid Al-Fitr day in London (AFP)

Hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by nearly three quarters over the past year, according to police figures released on Monday.

The Metropolitan Police recorded 816 Islamophobic crimes in the UK capital for the 12 months until the end of July – the previous year there were 478 documented attacks.

The highest rise was in the south-west borough of Merton, where attacks rose from eight to 29 year on year – an increase of 263 percent.

Islamophobic attacks have escalated in the past few years, with the Metropolitan Police documenting 318 attacks in 2011. The areas with the highest number of attacks are in Merton, Islington, Southwark and Westminster.

A spokesperson for Islamophobia monitor Tell Mama, Fiyaz Mughal, told the BBC that around 60 percent of victims in the past year have been women wearing a headscarf or a face veil. 

“We realised quite early on that women who wear niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents – there was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police said that the rise in attacks was down to better reporting by victims and officers being more attuned to crimes motivated by Islamophobia.

The police said that global events may influence a rise in attacks against Muslims and pledged to continue their work in combating hate crimes.

“We will not tolerate hate crime and take positive action to investigate all allegations, support victims and arrest offenders,” Commander Mak Chishty said in a statement. “Victims of hate crime must be assured that they will be taken seriously by police.”

“We have more than 900 specialist officers across London working in our community safety units who are dedicated to investigating hate crime. No one should suffer in silence, so please report hate crime to us as soon as possible so we can act.”

Muslims account for less than 5 percent of the total British population.