Socialist Worker

Muslim women in front line as racist hate crimes soar

The fallout from last month’s Paris attacks has fuelled a rise in racism—and resistance to it, reports Judith Orr

Issue No. 2483

Anti-racists at a solidarity protest outside Finsbury Park mosque last week

Anti-racists at a solidarity protest outside Finsbury Park mosque last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Weyman Bennett at the protest

Weyman Bennett at the protest (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Up to 500 people attended a solidarity protest at Finsbury Park mosque in north London on Friday of last week after an attempted firebombing.

Jeremy Corbyn at the protest

Jeremy Corbyn at the protest (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The attack came as Muslims suffered increasing abuse and assaults across Britain.

Amina Khalid joined the protest and told Socialist Worker she blamed the West’s wars for rising racism.

“Our leaders are playing a huge role in all the atrocities all over the world,” she said.

“There’s no doubt that there’s been a rise in Islamophobia after the attacks. I went to a meeting earlier this week about hate crimes.

“More than 60 women at that meeting had experienced some kind of abuse, whether physical or verbal after the Paris attacks.”

New figures show that attacks on Muslims in London went up by 70 percent in the last year.

There were 816 recorded crimes targeting Muslims in the year up to July 2015, up from 478 during the same period last year.

Almost every London borough saw a rise in attacks. Merton in south London saw an increase of 263 percent during that period.

Fiyaz Mughal, director of the Tell Mama organisation which documents Islamophobia, said 60 percent of recent attacks are on women. He said, “Women who wear niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents.”

In one incident in Bristol on Monday of this week a Muslim man was removed from a National Express coach when another passenger complained he looked “shifty” and she felt “uncomfortable”.

National Express say he was asked to leave the bus because he had too much luggage.

But other passengers report that there was plenty of room on the coach and many people had a lot of luggage.

Bristol student Rebekah Makinde witnessed the scene and told the Bristol Post, “I understand that drivers want their passengers to feel comfortable.

“But not if it stems from someone's unfounded and Islamophobic beliefs and at the expense of another paying passenger. I am truly appalled.”

The response shown by those who protested against racism at Finsbury Park mosque will be needed everywhere that Muslims come under attack, whether from politicians in Westminster or on the street.

At the rally, Weyman Bennett from Stand up to Racism pointed out, politicians “didn’t challenge the racists in the EDL or the BNP. We did that ourselves”.

Khalid Omar, secretary trustee Finsbury Park mosque, said of those who came to stand by Muslims that, “If you were asked to draw a picture of solidarity, it would look like today. We are all one.”

What makes a knife attack ‘terrorism’?

Two knife attacks were treated very differently this week.

Muhaydin Mire is accused of slashing a man’s neck at Leytonstone Tube station in east London last Sunday. He appeared to have severe mental health problems, which his family had raised with police.

Cops classed it as a “terrorist incident”. So did most of the media.

The next day a man was stabbed to death, seemingly at random, at a Poundland store in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

But that one wasn’t “terrorist”.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.