By: Zack Adesina and Oana Marocico
Source: BBC News
Hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 70% in the past year, according to Met Police statistics.
Figures for the 12 months up to July showed 816 Islamophobic crimes, compared with 478 for the previous 12-month period.
Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors Islamophobic attacks, claimed women were the primary targets.
The group told Inside Out London women wearing a face veil were victims of more “aggressive incidents”.
The Met define Islamophobic crime as any offence intended to affect those known or perceived to be Muslim. Reported incidents ranged from cyber-bullying and assaults to extreme violence.
One of the highest increases was in Merton, south west London, which saw a rise from eight incidents in the year to July 2014 up to 29 in the subsequent 12-month period – an increase of 263%.
The borough with the highest number of incidents in the year 2014-15 was Westminster, which had 54 Islamophobic crimes, according to Scotland Yard’s figures.
Tell MAMA said about 60% of Islamophobia victims were women.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the organisation, said: “We realised that at a street level Muslim women who were visible, and wore the Hijab or the headscarf, were suffering more targeted abuse.
“We also realized quite early on that women who wear Niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents – there was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator.”
The charity said female victims often avoided contacting the police because they feared it could make matters worse.
The Met does not have a breakdown of the gender of victims of Islamophobic crime but said they believed the overall increase in attacks were due to “improved methods of recording crime”.
Cdr Mak Chishty, the force’s lead for hate crime, said: “There are a number of reasons why Muslim women are targeted more than men.
“Their physical attire obviously says they are Muslim, they are normally by themselves and with children and the cowardice shown by perpetrators is that it is easier to attack a women with children than it is a man.”
Muslim convert and mother-of-two Joni Clark moved her family from Penge in south east London, to Whitechapel in east London, after suffering several Islamophobic incidents.
“I receive abuse every single day,” she said.
“The attacks affect my children deeply and I fear for their safety so I feel I have no choice but to move.”