The Centre’s Deputy Director Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker was interviewed for ITV Central News shown today on ITV1.
Commenting on the recent reaction to the Woolwich attack and the impact on tensions within communities, Dr Elsdon-Baker said:
The Woolwich attack highlighted an underlying problem, and it is really important to build a better understanding of the ways anti-Muslim sentiment is potentially becoming more normalised after all, the more everyday prejudice that can be most corrosive within society.
We have to remember that hate crime is underreported. It is vital not to overlook the role of third party projects like Faith Matters’ Tell Mama project, which are really important in shedding at least some light on the real nature of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK. However, given the underreporting of such crimes, these kinds of project will still only give us indicative data. In short, this may be the tip of the iceberg. There was an initial spike in anti-Muslim hate crime immediately after the Woolwich attack - between the incident and the 6th June there were 252 hate crimes incidents logged with the Tell Mama project. Though the number of crimes being reported looks as though it may be returning to previous levels (which are still unacceptable), what is new is the intensity and severity of the hate crimes; for example the setting of fires at the Islamic centre in Muswell Hill and at a Muslim School in Kent. We did not see this kind of aggression over such a short period of time before the Woolwich attack.
The most important thing to take away from this is that the brutal and unforgivable attack in Woolwich, and the equally unforgivable response of far right groups to it, are not simply a ‘Muslim community’ problem, but a societal problem, which we all need to take responsibility for tackling.
The Centre for Social Relations is co-ordinating a workshop 'Woolwich and Beyond: Future action on social cohesion, the role of the British State and Muslim communities' in London on the 27th June in London working in partnership with Faith Matters, the Intercivil Society, the National Association of Muslim Police, and Lancaster University.
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To watch the report please visit the ITV news page here