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Early intervention and involvement of the Muslim/other community and police plus civil society groups could reduce hate crimes following a terrorist incident, says Britain’s leading anti-Muslim hate crime monitoring group and academics.

  • Hate crime spikes usually take place between 24-72 hours after a terrorist incident.
  • Tell MAMA has seen and measured these spikes since it first observed a large spike after the murder of drummer Lee Rigby by Islamist extremists in 2013.
  • Yet effective messaging between the Metropolitan Police, civil society groups and a mobilisation by local faith groups after the appalling March 2017 Westminster Bridge attack meant that any divisive hate incidents after the attack were not as significant as they could have been in terms of their volume.
  • The report underscores the need for quick and early mobilisation and communication interventions, thereby closing down the window for hate groups to promote their divisiveness and in detaching the actions of the terrorist from wider Muslim communities who want to peacefully get on with their lives.
  • A National 14-day Plan (terror incident response plan) should be implemented by police forces across the UK, based on the Metropolitan Police’s model used after the Westminster attack, which had a significant impact on hate crime levels.
  • This mobilisation also means that wider communities are able to come together and bond at a time when many are in shock and grief when lives are lost and another reason why quick community mobilisation is essential.

This ground-breaking report is a joint collaboration between Tell MAMA (Measuring anti-Muslim Attacks) and the authors, Ms Kim Sadique, Dr James Tangen and Ms Anna Perowne.

The full report can be found HERE.

 How Hate Can Be Reduced After Terrorist Attacks

The overall aim of this report is to understand post ‘trigger event’ hate incident patterns with a specific focus on the anomalous data following the Westminster terror attack (22nd March 2017). In order to achieve this, the authors undertook a detailed discourse analysis for a period of 2 weeks post Westminster attack between 22nd March 2017 to 5th April 2017 (this timescale is linked to the National 14 Day Plan implemented by the Metropolitan Police). Analysis of hate incident reports provided by Tell MAMA was undertaken and semi-structured interviews were conducted with three hate crime and two journalism professionals to illicit the expert opinions of those working in this field as to why there is a difference between some trigger events and others in terms of hate incident patterns. The report concludes with a list of recommendations that have been devised following interviews with key professionals.


Speaking about the findings of the report, the Director of Tell MAMA, Iman Atta OBE said:

“This report consolidates and confirms what we know. That there are significant spikes in anti-Muslim hate and bigotry after major national terrorist events, though these can be mitigated by strong local co-ordinated community messaging that is quick, responsive and from the heart of local communities.

 We know after Westminster, that this works and if we are to maintain social cohesion and reduce hate crime impacts, this report provides the first real insight into how this can be done through rapid mobilisation and positive messaging.”

Commenting on the report, the lead researcher and author of the report, Kim Sadique, said:

“This research provides support for previous anecdotal evidence regarding hate incident patterns following ‘trigger’ events such as the EU referendum or terror attacks. Analysis of the data shows clear spikes in online hate between 24-48 hours after a ‘trigger’ event and this then moves offline between 48-72 hours after. Furthermore, it shows that hate incidents are underpinned by the level of emotional connection to the ‘trigger’ event. In what we call the ‘familiar and familial’ effect, the level of empathy or connection felt towards the chosen target influences both the prevalence and severity of hate responses. The more of a connection the public has with the target location or the more they can empathise with the victims, the more likely we are to see hate spikes both online and offline after such ‘trigger’ events (700% increase in ‘street incidents’ in the seven days following the Manchester Arena attack). Westminster was different, the hate spike was not as significant as those following other trigger events. We believe this was because there were clearer counter-narratives immediately after the attack and there appeared to be less emotional attachment by the public to the target location”.

The full report can be found HERE.

Key Recommendations

  1. Government and political parties should provide clear leadership and a distinctive counter-narrative to anti-Muslim sentiments following a potential trigger event

There needs to be a clearer counter-narrative from the Government and/or political parties following a ‘trigger event’ to prevent hate responses. Clear leadership and visibility of Government and/or political parties is crucial from the outset.

  1. All Police Services should implement the National 14-Day Plan in the immediate aftermath of a potential trigger event

The National 14-Day Plan implemented by the Metropolitan Police should be utilised by all Police Services across the UK following terrorist attacks.

  1. Media reporting in the aftermath of a ‘trigger event’ needs to be more balanced and media outlets should be held to account for reporting that is inflammatory or factually inaccurate

The media needs to consider the use of language and images used in reporting ‘trigger events.’

  1. Social media companies should enforce a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards posts that incite hate

Social media companies can respond much faster to posts which incite hatred by blocking/removing the posts/user more quickly.

  1. Muslim communities need to be given a safe platform from which they are able to express their emotions and response to ‘trigger events’, such as terror attacks

Muslim communities should be supported to provide a clear and immediate response to potential ‘trigger events’, particularly terror attacks. Media outlets should ensure a safe platform is provided for legitimate representatives from Muslim communities to be able to speak, without fear of being vilified or collectively blamed for the actions of individuals

  1. Further research must be undertaken to understand the role of emotions in post ‘trigger event’ hate responses

Research should focus particularly on feelings of connection to the event, location and/or victims in addition to patriotic sentiments more generally