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UK: Islamophobic incidents rose after Johnson's article02 September 2019

Group recording anti-Muslim hate crime in UK says Boris Johnson's burqa article fuelled into Islamophobia

Boris Johnson’s incendiary article on Muslim women wearing the face veil led to a 375% rise in incidents of Islamophobia in the U.K., an anti-Muslim hatred watchdog reported today.

Tell Mama, a group that monitors Islamophobic occurrences across the U.K., in its annual report, said that there were two instances of "spikes" in Islamophobic hate during 2018.

The first was found during the so-called "Punish a Muslim day" campaign that saw letters sent to Muslims across the country, as well as prominent Muslim parliamentarians. This saw an unprecedented 37 incidents on the streets of Britain that specifically referenced "Punish a Muslim day".

The second, and most significant spike occurred after the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, now Prime Minister, wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph calling Muslim women who wore the veil, "letterboxes" and "bank robbers".

This saw an increase in Islamophobic incidents rise from eight the week before, to 38 the week following his article. Of those 28 incidents, 22 were directed at women who wore the face veil.

The report also finds that the majority of incidents took place in public spaces, suggesting that anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming more mainstream and normalized within society at large. A spokesperson for Tell Mama said, "The rising instances of discrimination, hate speech, and anti-Muslim literature indicate that a more general intolerance and hatred is growing".

A worrying trend, not least because, as Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama said, "Anti-Muslim hatred has become an issue that is not going away and which has been growing since we started supporting victims of anti-Muslim hate in 2011".

"We, therefore, emphasize the gravity of attacks on Islam in tandem with hatred directed at individuals or institutions," the group said.

"The two are interconnected, thus hatred and intolerance must both be challenged simultaneously," Tell Mama concluded.

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