UK sees sharp rise in anti-Muslim abuse ‘with women bearing brunt’

Hamas attacks also linked to all-time high number of reported anti-Semitic incidents

Women have been the targets of two thirds of Islamophobic incidents in the UK since October 7, a report shows. Getty Images
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Islamophobic incidents in the UK have more than tripled in the four months since the Hamas attacks in Israel last year, an organisation monitoring anti-Muslim sentiment has reported.

There were 2,010 cases of anti-Muslim abuse between October 7, 2023, and February 7 this year, reported Tell Mama, an organisation that describes itself as the leading agency on measuring anti-Muslim hate.

During the same four-month period a year previously, 600 cases were reported.

Of the total cases recorded after the October 7 Hamas attacks, 1,109 were classed as online cases, while 901 took place offline, Tell Mama said.

Incidents it recorded included a Muslim woman in Islamic clothing being assaulted on a bus in East London and told “you Muslims are troublemakers”; a written death threat to worshippers at a mosque; a woman whose car was vandalised with a Nazi swastika; and cases of Muslim women being called “terrorists”.

Protest outside UK Parliament calls for Gaza ceasefire – in pictures

In almost two thirds of cases women were the target of attacks, a fact the organisation said “once again demonstrates that British Muslim women have borne the majority of the brunt of anti-Muslim hate during this time”.

“We are deeply concerned about the impacts that the Israel and Gaza war are having on hate crimes and on social cohesion in the UK," Iman Atta, the organisation’s director, said.

“Hate crimes against British Muslims have substantially risen and our data clearly demonstrates this.

“This rise in anti-Muslim hate is unacceptable and we hope that political leaders speak out to send a clear message that anti-Muslim hate, like anti-Semitism, is unacceptable in our country.

“There really is no space for hate and, more than ever, it is essential that we sustain, nurture and protect the bonds that we have between communities, so that we all feel valued and safe in our communities and in our country.”

Rise in anti-Semitic attacks in UK represent 'explosion in hatred'

Earlier this month, the Community Security Trust (CST) said it had recorded an “explosion in hatred” against the Jewish community since the October 7 attacks.

More than 4,000 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the UK by the Community Security Trust (CST) in 2023, the highest figure ever recorded, which the Trust put down to the “sheer volume” which took place following the Hamas attacks.

The CST said there were 4,103 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2023, up from the previous annual record of 2,261 incidents, which had been reported two years previously.

Downing Street vigil against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia – in pictures

Tensions spread to the House of Commons

The incidents come amid heightened tensions caused by the Israel-Gaza conflict, with members walking out of the House of Commons following a debate on voting for a ceasefire in the region.

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle allowed Labour to amend an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, angering MPs.

On Thursday, Mr Hoyle reiterated his apology for his part in Wednesday's chaotic scenes, emphasising concerns over the security of MPs who have faced threats over their stance on the Middle East conflict.

“I have a duty of care and if my mistake is looking after members, I am guilty,” he told MPs.

“I never, ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, of whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists.”

During a protest calling for a Gaza ceasefire in London on Wednesday a controversial pro-Palestinian message was projected on to Parliament.

Updated: February 23, 2024, 4:29 AM