On 1 October 2014, the BBC reported that anti-Muslim hate crime had increased 65% in London. This number is based on crime statistics over the last two financial years from the Metropolitan Police. The massive increase mostly accounts for the huge spike of anti-Muslim crimes following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich during the summer of 2013.
We decided to investigate this further and judge whether the proliferation of anti-Muslim attacks in the summer of 2013 was a temporary spike. To do this, we submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Metropolitan Police requesting a detailed breakdown of every anti-Muslim hate crime from April 2012 to August 2014 by borough (which is available as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet). Looking at the data, we find an even more disturbing story, illustrated in the infographic below.
Before the Woolwich incident, from April 2012 to April 2013, there was an average of 28 anti-Muslim hate crimes per month. In April 2013, there were 22 anti-Muslim hate crimes in London, but in May (when Lee Rigby is murdered) that number soars to 109 crimes. As the infographic shows, this spike lasts until about July 2013. By August, it appears that anti-Muslim hate crime is back to a normal level.
However, if we measure anti-Muslim hate crimes from August 2013 to September 2014 the average number of hate crimes sits at 45 per month, a 60% rise compared to the average prior to the Woolwich incident, suggesting a long-term increase in the average level of anti-Muslim hate crimes in London.
By early 2014 Muslims are back on the front page, with the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham framed as a ‘jihadist plot’ to take over schools. In the summer and early autumn, the Gaza-Israel conflict and ISIS are in the news, correlating with an increase in anti-Muslim attacks. In fact, some anecdotal evidence from Tell MAMA’s verbal abuse cases suggests that perceptions about ISIS motivate anti-Muslim hate nationally and in London. Coverage of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, twisted by the far-right into a ‘Muslim’ issue, further contributes to anti-Muslim discourse in late 2014.
The data from the Metropolitan Police shows that the spike in anti-Muslim attacks in the summer of 2013 led to a sustained increase in the base level of crimes into 2014. If we look at the last two years, we find that between October 2013 and September 2014, there is a 6.5% increase in the total number of anti-Muslim hate crimes over the previous year (October 2012 – September 2013). It is clear that anti-Muslim hate did not simply taper off and fall back to a low level after 2014. Instead, it got worse in 2014.