Islamophobic attacks in Manchester surge by 500% after arena attack

Police vow to take tough action to curb hate crime and warn true number of incidents could be even higher

Islamophobic attacks soared more than 500% in Greater Manchester after the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert last month, police have said.

There were 224 reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the month after the attack compared with 37 in the same period in 2016, official figures show.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) revealed the 505% rise in Islamophobic incidents as officers said they would take tough action to curb the increase in hate-fuelled incidents.

The figures came as police across Britain increased protection for Muslim communities after the Finsbury Park mosque attack in the early hours of Monday.

Rob Potts, assistant chief constable of GMP, said hate crime in the region had returned to normal levels in recent days – but warned that the true number of incidents could be even higher due to under-reporting.

He said: “Greater Manchester has a diverse population, with people from different faiths and backgrounds, and this is something that we are proud of. It’s what makes us the city we are. We will not tolerate hatred or discrimination of any kind.

“When a major tragedy occurs such as the attacks in Manchester and London, it is sadly not unusual for there to be a spike in the amount of hate crimes, specifically against race and religion, but thankfully they do decrease again quickly.”

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has pledged extra policing resources “for as long as it is needed” to reassure Muslim communities after the Finsbury Park attack, in which one man died and 11 were injured.

Figures released by GMP show religious hate crimes, including Islamophobia, leapt from 92 to 366 since the arena attack that killed 22 and wounded 220 others on 22 May.

Race hate crimes have jumped 61%, to 778 incidents, compared with the same four weeks last year. The figures show smaller increases in attacks targeting disability and sexual orientation.

But the biggest increase was in anti-Muslim hate crime, the figures show. The nature of the incidents are not detailed but are thought to include a mosque in Oldham that was hit with a firebomb hours after the Manchester bombing.

A 14-year-old pupil at Manchester Islamic high school for girls was also targeted days after the arena attack when a passerby shouted: “When are you going to stop bombing people?”

The headteacher, Mona Mohamed, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the teenager was “very upset and hurt” but chose to keep quiet as advised by the school.

“What’s the point of reacting?” she said. “That’s not the way we’re going to tackle terrorism. Terrorism is not part of Islam. We’re Muslim and to us Islam is peaceful.”

Sondes Malek, a British Libyan teacher at the school, added that most pupils had enjoyed a lot of support from non-Muslims.

Potts added: “We continue to monitor the levels of hate crimes that are reported and it is essential that we remind people about the importance of reporting when a hate crime happens to you, or you see it happening.

“Hate crime is often under-reported for a number of reasons, but we want people to have the confidence in coming forward as no one should be the subject of hate and intolerance.”

Tell Mama, which records Islamophobic crime, this week reported a UK-wide increase in incidents.

The Metropolitan police say the volume of hate crime they record as Islamophobic attacks has increased sharply in the past four years.

The force recorded 343 incidents in the 12 months to March 2013; 1,109 in the 12 months to March 2016; and 1,260 in the 12 months to March 2017.


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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