Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of threats and intimidation in UK suburbs and market towns than in big cities, according to a report.
Case studies reveal examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a “terrorist” in front of her petrified daughter. The report said such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police.
She also played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim woman.
The new study, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies, reveals this kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden.
The report is part of a 10-year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society.
The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced.
Findings show that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically and smaller or isolated Muslim communities in places like Colchester, Bishop Stortford and Boston have become especially vulnerable.
Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-director of the EMRC, said: “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business.”
The report also analyses the local activity by the British National Party, English Defence League and other organisations.