Steve Rose from Faith Matters, an organisationÂ which works to reduce extremism & tensions between faith communities, writes about how itâ€™s supporting Muslims who are targeted by anti-Muslim hate attacks because of their faithâ€¦
At Faith Matters, we launched the Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) project in 2012. Our mantra is simple: to support and give voice to Muslims targeted because of their faith.
If individuals experience or witness acts of anti-Muslim hate either online or offline they can call our free and confidential helpline on 0800 456 1226 or use the online reporting tool â€“ or in an emergency, as always, dial 999.
In short, there is no other national project that monitors and supports those who experience prejudice and violence, including anti-Muslim hate attacks.
Under-reporting of hate crime remains a problem and we want to combat that. Our independence from government and the police creates a unique space for the Tell MAMA project to assist those who experience anti-Muslim hate in a confidential manner and help buck this trend.
Individuals who are the targets of hate crimes tend to experience more complex psychological issues than victims of non-biased crimes. So itâ€™s important for our staff to provide corresponding emotional support.
In our experience, many service users find it cathartic to know someone is on their side and wants to help. A partnership with Victim Support means we also offer service users additional emotional support.
Our service remains a tool to help lobby wider society about anti-Muslim hate, whether it manifests online or offline.
In recent weeks, Islamophobic hate crimes have made headlines nationwide. Figures for the 12 months up to July found a 70.7 per cent increase year-on-year. The Metropolitan Police recorded 816 Islamophobic crimes, compared with 478 for the previous 12-month period.
Our own data reveals that roughly 60 per cent of our service users are women â€“ targeted in large part for their religious dress. Often, they face verbal hostility. That hostility can include phrases like â€˜terroristâ€™, â€˜paedophileâ€™, â€˜ISISâ€™, â€˜Pakiâ€™, â€˜groomerâ€™. Women who choose to wear the niqab (face veil) can often find themselves compared unfavourably to post boxes or ninjas.
Others will use social media to dehumanise Muslims as â€˜musratsâ€™ or â€˜muslimeâ€™. Anti-Muslim hate comes with its own unique labels and racial slurs. These slurs are even dished out to white converts â€“ who face the accusation of â€˜betrayingâ€™ their race. This language can appear both on social media and on the street.
Also, sometimes, current stories about terrorism can create negative or hostile feelings.
This is not a call to censorship; but some people will associate Muslims with violence or sex crimes due to the news stories they consume. Yet the problem remains deeper. There is an educational gap that will take a collective effort to address.
But thatâ€™s not a cause for pessimism. In fact, the opposite is true. There is still much work to do. Through our partnerships work with civil society organisations, police forces and governmental bodies, we find an appetite to tackle this hatred.
The key is to remind Muslim communities of their rights and of the organisations that support them.
Nor must we allow acts of terrorism to stop us from celebrating our religious diversity and the contributions of Muslims in public life.
To members of our diverse Muslim communities â€“ we want to reaffirm our desire to support and empower you. Help us change the debate on anti-Muslim hate and we will do what we can for you.
Anti-Muslim hate is a real problem that will not end overnight. Together though, we can challenge this bigotry and make it as unacceptable as other forms of racism.
Educating the public about the necessity of reporting in hate matters.
Faith Matters â€“ Website: http://faith-matters.org/,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Free and confidential helpline: 0800 456 1226
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Anti-Muslim attack online reporting tool: http://tellmamauk.org/submit-a-report-to-us/
National Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from 10-17 October 2015