The University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre has published an important new study which claims that hate crimes are on the rise against Muslims in UK, encouraged by mainstream politicians and sections of the media. The study — ‘Islamophobia and anti-Muslim Hate Crime: A London Case Study’ (.pdf) — was carried out by Jonathan Githens-Mazer and Robert Lambert, a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer. In the introduction, they write that their past research suggested that
the popular and pejorative notions of politically active Muslim Londoners as subversive and sectarian threats did not match the reality on the ground… the UK government’s strategy to prevent violent extremism has at times been undermined by advisors, most notably the Quilliam Foundation, who target mainstream London-based Muslim organisations as subversive threats when the evidence suggests they are often credible and effective opponents of violent extremism.
They add that the report provides ‘prima facie and empirical evidence to demonstrate that assailants of Muslims are invariably motivated by a negative view of Muslims they have acquired from either mainstream or extremist nationalist reports or commentaries in the media’.
There are special rules of discourse when it comes to Muslims.It is permissible to fabricate malicious falsehoods and therefore ferment hatred against Muslims in a way which would be regarded as immoral and illegal if perpetrated against any other vulnerable section of society.One of the achievements of Jonathan Githens-Mazer andRobert Lambert’s very powerful study is to expose the shocking consequences of this inhumane culture of contempt. One of them is violence. The constant assault on Muslims from certain politicians, and above all in the mainstream media, has created an atmosphere where hate crimes, ranging from casual abuseto arson and even murder, are bound to occur and are evenin a sense encouraged by mainstream society.
Vikram Dodd of the Guardian notes:
The study mentions no newspapers or writers by name, but alleges that the book Londonistan, by the Mail writer Melanie Phillips, played a part in triggering hate crimes.
“Islamophobic, negative and unwarranted portrayals of Muslim London as Londonistan and Muslim Londoners as terrorists, sympathisers and subversives in sections of the media appear to provide the motivation for a significant number of anti-Muslim hate crimes,” it says.
The phrase has since been borrowed, of course, by Christopher Hitchens among other (more on him later).
Githens-Mazer and Lambert dedicate the report to 22-year-old Moroccan PhD student Yasir Abdelmouttalib who was critically injured and blinded in one of these hate crimes.