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Attacks against UK Muslims rose by 326 percent in 2015: Monitor

New Tell Mama report shows that Muslim women are more likely than men to face abuse in public places
Muslims women wearing hijab and niqab in public are more likely to be attacked than men, says Tell Mama report (Source AFP)

Reported attacks against Muslims in public areas in the UK rose by 326 percent in 2015, according to a report by a monitoring group.

Tell Mama's report also shows that Muslim women, particularly those who wear the hijab or niqab, are more likely than Muslim men to face abuse in public areas. Their abusers after often teenagers, the report says.

The report comes in the wake of a spike in reported hate crimes against Muslims and EU migrants following Britain's vote to leave the EU last Thursday.

In the past week, hundreds of people have used social media to document alleged incidents of racism and anti-Muslim hatred by using the hashtag #PostRefRacism.

On Wednesday, the Home Office announced it would publish a new Hate Crime Action Plan that will work "in partnership with communities and across departments", Karen Bradley, a Home Office minister, told the House of Commons.

The Home Office only started collecting data on Islamophobic hate crimes in April this year. It previously recorded such attacks under a general religious-based hate crime category which did not break down incidents by religion.

Founded in 2012, Tell Mama uses data from more than 15 police forces across the UK, plus reports from victims and the public to compile a picture of Islamophobia in the country.

The report released on Wednesday also shows that more than one in 10 incidents reported to the organisation took place in schools. The second most likely place Muslims were attacked was on public transport in city centres.

The new data is based on incidents of Islamophobia reported directly to the organisation, and findings from three police forces collated over the past year.

Former justice and communities minister Shahid Malik, who chairs Tell Mama, wrote in the report's foreword that the statistics paint a "profoundly bleak picture" of Islamophobia both online and offline "with visible Muslim women being disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers".

“The exponential growth is testament to the fact that despite great efforts to fight anti-Muslim hatred, as a society we are still falling behind in supporting many of our citizens," Malik said.

During 2015, the organisation said it received 1,128 reports of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred, but analysed only 801 of these attacks as part of the report.

Jo Cox, the MP who was killed earlier this month in an attack in her Yorkshire constituency, had been working in conjunction with Tell Mama to help compile the report and planned to address parliament later this month to introduce its findings.  

Fiyaz Mughal, Tell Mama founder and director, told the Guardian that Cox met the organisation to talk about how her constituents could report attacks, with particular concern for Muslim women.