I deal with Islamophobic attacks that are reported to us. Prior to 7 July I was getting about five a week, now it’s about 100. So far we’ve had at least 290 and there are more to be logged. We’ve been overwhelmed.
Incidents start from small things, such as dirty looks or people moving seats on the train. More serious incidents include racist comments — for example one woman wearing the hijab (headscarf) was asked “why do you wear that shit?”
The most serious incidents include criminal damage and violence against people. We’ve had a case of someone who had their garage torched and another of someone whose car was smashed with a baseball bat.
One man rang to say he’d been beaten up. There was a man in Nottingham who was stabbed. There have been attacks on mosques ranging from windows being broken to petrol bombings.
We deal with attacks on Muslims but we’ve also heard of two Sikh temples being attacked. The young man who was stabbed in Liverpool was not stabbed because he was Muslim, but once you create a climate in which these things are happening it can go beyond Muslims.
There has been underreporting of Islamophobic attacks. When people phone up they tell me about the incident affecting them and then say there’s four or five other people they know who have experienced similar things.
Lots of people don’t know where to report things to.
Others are just disheartened or too scared to make a report. I also think some police stations are trying to play this down.
The media has been irresponsible, for example giving out addresses for the bombers. The way the language is used is casting suspicion on anyone who is Islamic or even just Asian.
Tony Blair’s comments after the bombings were not useful, especially when he referred to “Islamic terrorism”.
There is an implication that we have criminals hiding in every corner, and that we can just hand them over. The truth is that nobody who goes to a mosque hears about people planning a bombing. You wouldn’t hear robbers sitting in a pub saying, “Tomorrow I’m going to do a big bank robbery.”
The onus is being put on the Muslim community to sort this out. But it goes much deeper — Muslims are feeling alienated.
No public figures went to the mosques that have been attacked or have condemned the rise in Islamophobia. We feel we’re being scapegoated and victimised, yet we’re told we have to integrate and be loyal.’
To find out more about the Islamic Human Rights Commission go to www.ihrc.org