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Religious hate crimes rise fivefold { July 23 2005 }

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Religious hate crimes rise fivefold

Vikram Dodd
Saturday July 23, 2005
The Guardian

The number of faith hate crimes has risen fivefold in the fortnight since the London bombings, the Guardian has learned. The Metropolitan Police has recorded 800 race and faith hate crimes since the July 7 attacks.
The number of faith hate crimes, predominantly directed at British Muslims, has passed the 200 mark. In the same fortnight last year, 30 faith hate incidents were reported by the Met.

Nationally, the figure for hate incidents directed at Muslims has passed 1,200 as a backlash continues.

The intelligence pattern of incidents and attacks provides one small comfort. There was no intensification in hate crimes after the revelation that the attacks were carried out by British-born Muslim suicide bombers.
Analysts believe the attacks are continuing at the same intensity as before. Most incidents are of name-calling and threatening phone calls.

The figures are almost certainly lower than the actual level, with studies showing hate crimes are under reported by a factor of four.

Police have won broad praise from Muslim groups for their efforts to protect them from a backlash. But ministers know that if police are seen to be failing to protect Muslims, that would further damage the chances that any information Islamic communities have about extremist activity is passed on.

After Thursday's failed bombings, police are trying to damp down any increased tensions which could trigger a rise in attacks.

The Met has now passed the effort to counter hate crime to its most senior Muslim officer, assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur. The Guardian has learned he will also spearhead the force's efforts to get British Muslims to inform on extremists, and those youngsters at risk of being influenced by extremists.

Senior officers have talked of a gulf in trust between the police and Britain's diverse communities.

The concern, underscored by a belief that more intelligence will come from Muslim communities if they feel confidence in the police, explains Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair's words of reassurance yesterday that his force was targeting "criminals", not members of one community.

The backlash is feared to have led to one murder in Nottingham, and arson attacks against several mosques. The once notorious Finsbury Park mosque in north London has received 30 threatening calls in the past fortnight.

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