Tell MAMA, a UK monitoring group for anti-Muslim attacks, has reported a rise in incidences in the UK, particularly by teenage perpetrators targeting women. The organisation looked at the number of incidences reported in 2017 and saw a rise of 26% year on year, representing a record high since beginning to record incidences. This record follows on from the shocking rise in 2015, where incidents of anti-Muslim abuse rose by 326%.
Growth of the Far-Right
Experts have flagged the growth of the far-right in the UK as one of the main reasons for the increase in anti-Muslim abuse, along with several “trigger incidents” including the Manchester and London terrorist attacks. Director of Tell MAMA Iman Atta stated that the findings showed a growing number of far-right and far-right sympathisers were emboldened by the results of the Brexit referendum and the US presidential elections in 2016. Atta stated that, although some of the increase could be down to an increase in reporting, the fact remains that many Muslims, and particularly Muslim women, are still reluctant to report incidences of Islamophobia.
Tahir Abbas, a prominent sociologist, commented on the findings from Tell MAMA and his worries that they indicate an increasing rise in nationalism and populism. With Muslims often being the target of abuse, Abbas pointed out that this only feeds into young Muslims becoming radicalised. Each incidence of Islamophobia can be used as a hook to reel in vulnerable and disillusioned young people, with the radical Islamists and the far-right groups feeding off each other and off Islamophobia.
One of the most worrying aspects of the results of the Tell MAMA report was the increase in incidences pf physical violence, both in number and in severity. Eight out of ten of the perpetrators were male and most of these were young men and boys aged between 13 and 18. Conversely, 60% of the victims were women. Atta expressed concern at the increase in aggression of the younger generation in their targeting of Muslim women, whom he said were more vulnerable due to their visibility. The actual number of incidences is likely to be far higher than the number reported. In Tell MAMA’s 2016 report, it was found that Muslim women who wore Islamic garments such as the niqab or hijab were increasing finding their right to travel on public transport free from intimidation and fear was severely curtailed.
Targets on Twitter
Another worrying area flagged by Tell MAMA was the inability of online social media platform Twitter to actively police Islamophobia. Despite having made more than 30 changes to the platform in the context of safety over the preceding year, Twitter users were able to easily open new accounts and continue their online abuse even after being banned from the platform. One victim had to report 11 individual harassment accounts, yet when Tell MAMA looked, it easily flagged anti-Muslim material that was simple to find and should have been removed.
About Tell MAMA
Tell MAMA was founded in 2012 and utilises data from UK police forces in tandem with specific reports from victims and concerned members of the public to compile a more complete picture of the reach of Islamophobia across the UK. Anyone who is the victim of an attack or who witnesses an attack that is or appears to be anti-Muslim motivated can easily report the incident via telephone, text message, email or social media.
This information can then be used to map and monitor Islamophobia and victims can be referred to partner organisations for additional support if this is required. Statistics such as those presented in the Tell MAMA reports show that there is an increased need to measure and highlight anti-Muslim incidents in the UK and across the world in recent years.