The recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London have sparked more than the coming together of communities. They have also led to an increase in hate crime, and specifically Islamophobic hate crimes.
After the Manchester attack on the 22nd of May, social media was flooded with messages of hope and community, many under the hashtag #WeStandTogether. Unfortunately, these messages of help and comfort are not the only ones that surface after an attack like this. Hateful utterances also find their way online. However, the Muslim community had to deal with more than a few hateful utterances on social media after the attack.
In the days after the attack, there was a measurable spike of hate incidents reported. These incidents included things such as verbal abuse, spitting, and headscarves being pulled from the heads of Muslim women. These attacks on individuals are often accompanied by attacks against communities, such as the arsonist attack on the Oldham mosque in Manchester.
The same spike in hate crimes was seen after the London Bridge attack on 3rd of June. In the week after the attack, Islamophobic attacks increased fivefold and in general there was a 40% increase in racist incidents. Compared to the rise in hate crimes after the Brexit vote last year, these post-terror crimes are more focused towards Muslim communities. Like the incidents reported after the Manchester attacks, these crimes included online abuse, threats, assaults, and physical abuse. As in Manchester, London mosques have also experienced vandalism. In one case, The Sutton Islamic centre in south London was graffitied with the words: “Terrorise your own country”.
This shows a clear trend. However, the real question is why? Why does hate crime spike after terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester and on London Bridge?
Of course, the obvious answer is prejudice and racism. The people who carry out these hate crimes are unable to separate religious extremists from the common religious follower. There is also the concern that sections of the media manufacture stories and create sensationalist articles that are not based on facts that play into this view. Additionally, over the last few years, Western countries have seen a rise in far-right extremism, which also contributes to these views being spread and adopted by others.
Hate crime is a serious issue, and these spikes are concerning. JAN Trust works to raise awareness of hate crime through our programme Say No To Hate Crime. We also take steps to prevent hate crimes, particularly against refugee, asylum-seeking, and Muslim women. We offer a safe environment for women to voice their concerns and to seek support. On our website you can learn more and make a report if you or someone you know has been subjected to a hate crime.