ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry spoke to three people who are fearful for the future amid a rise in Islamophobic incidents in the UK
Figures shared with ITV News show a sevenfold increase in Islamophobic hate crimes since Hamas’ attack on October 7 compared to the same period last year.
There has also been a tenfold increase in cases at schools and universities, according to reports collated by Tell MAMA, a charity which records anti-Muslim incidents in the UK.
The 600% rise in incidents includes both verbal and physical abuse, as well as vandalism, with Acton Mosque in west London being splashed with red paint three times in two weeks.
On October 8, Lancashire police launched a hate crime investigation, following the dumping of a pig’s head at a proposed mosque in the market town of Barnoldswick.
ITV News heard from one woman from north London who “curled up into a ball”, as a driver started following her down the road and hurling abuse.
Aisha said she was wearing a traditional Arabic headscarf and her headphones when the woman accosted her – accusing her of supporting terror organisations and saying she “doesn’t belong here”.
“As I was walking up my road, suddenly I had someone just screaming and shouting some really hateful things about me. I was in a state of shock, I wasn’t sure what to do, I was terrified.”
“At one point I was just standing in the corner, I put my hood up, and I was just standing and just kind of waiting until she’d left, and just hiding myself and curling up into a ball.”
Haleem Kherallah, owner of Palestinian eatery Shakeshuka, said his central London restaurant had received 20 abusive phone calls this morning alone, with two members of staff having left in fear for their safety.
“I was really considering closing the restaurant,” he said. “Then I thought, you know what I’m not going to give up, and I’m determined not to let them win.”
Tell MAMA shared its findings as Home Secretary Suella Braverman faces widespread criticism for her description of pro-Palestine rallies in London as “hate marches”.
She found herself in even more hot water and was accused of inflaming tensions after suggesting police were “playing favourites” with protesters, in an op-ed for the Times that was not authorised by Number 10.
“Some of the rhetoric used by those in positions of power is poisonous, is divisive and this culture war is only going to lead to further hatred and hostility between communities,” said Qari Asim, an Imam at Leeds Makkah Mosque.
Tell MAMA warns that incidents are likely to be even higher than their figures suggest, as many hate crimes go unreported.
On its website, which includes safety advice, the charity says: “In the current climate, we continue to urge communities to stand together and practice compassion and care for each other and for themselves, to be upstanders and intervene safely to stop racism and hate crime.
“We urge those in positions of influence and public authority to consider how their language risk stereotyping communities and how it may unduly influence discussions online and offline.”
Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Zara Mohammed told ITV News: “I think the political rhetoric of the home secretary – very divisive language, very dangerous, pitting communities off one another, likening peaceful protests to hate marches, peddling to certain tropes – have been very unhelpful.
“They have upset many members of the community, and I think far and wide actually, but also they embolden extreme right-wing views. They embolden racism and Islamophobia, and they give people who maybe were a little bit in the shadows this kind of confidence that they can do these things.”
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