'Punched and told to leave Britain': Islamophobia reaches record high

Mosques have been subjected to abuse including threats and violence, ITV News' social affairs correspondent Stacey Foster reports. Words by social affairs producer Iram Sarwar

Almost 90% of mosques across the UK have experienced acts of hate crime in the last year.

An exclusive survey by ITV News and anti Muslim monitoring group Tell MAMA of 117 mosques found that the majority were subjected to abuse including threatening letters, acts of violence, and in one case, having faeces smeared across their walls.

At the Heaton Muslim Community Trust in Stockport, a pig’s head was thrown onto the roof last December, leaving those who use the centre “terrified.”

A pig’s head was thrown onto the roof of the Heaton Muslim Community Trust in Stockport. Credit: (Supplied)

CCTV images showed the horrific hate crime taking place, with two people getting out of a car with a bin bag. They then throw the object and walked back to their car laughing.

Greater Manchester Police were notified and recorded the incident as a hate crime, two people were arrested and released on bail.

One of the trustees and chairman of the mosque Tayyab Mohiuddin told ITV News that several months on from the crime, it’s still upsetting for the community and they’re still coming to terms with why someone would do this to them.

“We’ve been here for 10 to 12 years with no major issues and it hurts a lot that someone would go to so much effort to target a certain community to show their hate.

"Someone going to that extent, to pick up a pig’s head which is forbidden for Muslims. It’s the lowest you can go.”

The mosque have since been left frustrated with what they say is the lack of action by the police. Greater Manchester Police say that they are actively working on the case.

Instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes have more than doubled in the last decade according to Tell MAMA.

In 2012 there were 584 cases reported to the group, whereas in 2022 there were 2,651 incidents - though all cases are yet to be verified.

Since 2012, Tell Mama said it has helped and supported more than 16,000 cases of reported anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

Online hate climbed to a high in 2020, the organisation said, suggesting "the pandemic accelerated" such abuse on the internet.

The number itself may be much higher as many feel like they aren’t able to report incidents.

Activities of the far right, anti-Muslim attacks globally, political discourse, the Brexit referendum result, the activities of so-called Islamic State, grooming scandals and targeted anti-Muslim campaigns have all been cited as reasons for the spike in anti-Muslim hate.

ITV News' Social Affairs Correspondent Stacey Foster speaking to a victim of hate crime. Credit: ITV News

The impact on those who have been victims of Islamophobia can be devastating.

In 2017 Zaynab Hussein was left for dead after she was run over by a man in a random attack as she walked back home after dropping her children to school in Leicester.

As she lay on the floor the man turned his vehicle around and drove over her again, and witnesses claimed that he was laughing at the time.

She was left with life changing injuries, including severe fractures to her pelvis and spine, a broken leg and arm, and was in hospital for three months.

“Now I’m always in fear, I’m living in paranoia," she said.

"My name is still Zaynab, but I’ve changed completely through that experience. The way I view the world is new to me.

"Within seconds my whole life changed and I’ve lost who I was and the happiness of who I was and I can’t get that back.”

Zaynab Hussein was left for dead after she was run over by a man in a random attack

The mother is still living with the consequences of the attack, she still walks with a cane and lives in fear of leaving the house.

Paul Moore, who struck Zaynab, was jailed for life in 2018.

He had targeted her because he wanted revenge for the London 7/7 bombings and the Parsons Green Tube station attack, which had taken place five days before.

Zaynab said that police had initially treated the attack as an accident and not a hate crime.

She said it was only when Moore admitted why he had committed the attack that it was considered a hate crime, something that left her and the wider community deeply frustrated.

Frustrations at not having attacks looked into and perpetrators punished is something that Sabia Kamali is trying to tackle.

Sabia Kamali has set up a ‘Sisters Forum’ to help encourage other women to report crimes

She has been the victim of random violent attacks, including being bottled and punched in the face for wearing a hijab.

“I was walking to the station when randomly this man came to me and punched me right in my face and told me to go back to my country. I was completely shook, I couldn’t believe what happened to me.

"There were people passing by, they saw it, they walked on. I went home and obviously I was really scared.”

Sabia was given a crime reference after she was assaulted, but she says ultimately nothing was done because police said that not enough people come forward to report hate crimes.

Now she has set up a ‘Sisters Forum’ to help encourage other women like her to report crimes and do something about it.

With crimes continuing rise, Tell MAMA hopes that anti-Muslim hate is addressed and peacefully challenged and is calling for more people to call out hatred as and when they see it.

Help and support

If you or someone you know has experienced a hate crime or hate incident, you can get help from hate crime support services.

You can get help from Victim Support - this is an independent charity that can:

  • listen to you and give you emotional support

  • give you practical help - for example, if you need to repair damage caused by a hate crime or move house if you’re being harassed

  • help you deal with the legal system - for example, if you’re going to court

Get support from Victim Support on their website

You can also report it to the police.

If you want to report the crime or incident to the police, it’s a good idea to contact a hate crime support service first. They can help you work out what to say in your report.

Check how to report a hate crime to the police.

If you don’t want to talk to the police, you can ask an independent organisation to report it for you anonymously. These organisations are called ‘third party reporting centres’.

In an emergency, you should call 999.

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