Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime soars after Israel-Gaza war

Figures from some of Britain’s police forces reveal surges in hate crime - with an 1000% increase in antisemitic and Islamphobic offences across the rail network 

Amy-Clare Martin
Crime Correspondent
Friday 29 December 2023 10:09
<p>The war and hostage crisis in the Middle East has had a significant impact on Jewish and Muslim communities in the UK, with many forces reporting surges in hate crime </p>

The war and hostage crisis in the Middle East has had a significant impact on Jewish and Muslim communities in the UK, with many forces reporting surges in hate crime

Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime has soared in some parts of the country following the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war, worrying new figures have revealed.

Data from police forces has uncovered a surge in anti-Jewish offences in many major cities in the weeks after Hamas launched its attack on Israel on 7 October.

Islamophobic crimes also soared in 20 policing areas, according to force data, but decreased or stayed the same in 10 areas.

Jewish leaders called the have called the figures shocking, while campaigners against anti-Muslim abuse said the data was “deeply worrying”.

Freedom of Information request data showed British Transport Police, responsible for 10,000 miles of tracks and more than 3,000 stations, recorded 87 antisemitic offences in the month after the 7 October massacre, up from eight in the same period in 2022 – a 987 per cent increase.

Islamophobic hate crimes also soared by 1,000 per cent, with 22 offences recorded after the conflict broke out, up from just two in the same period in 2022.

Greater Manchester Police also reported a 400 per cent rise in antisemitic incidents in the same time period, with 74 offences recorded compared with 15 for the same period in 2022. However Islamophobic crimes were down on the previous year.

Police have expressed concern about rising incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia. Thousands joined a march against antisemitism in London last month.

Merseyside Police saw a similar rise in antisemitism, with incidents up 400 per cent from four in 2022 to 22 after 7 October, while Islamophobic incidents were up 66 per cent.

West Yorkshire Police recorded 53 antisemitic offences, compared with 10 in 2022 – a 430 per cent increase – while Islamophobic crimes were up 68 per cent.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police recorded the largest increase in antisemitism with a staggering 2,100 per cent rise in incidents, with 22 offences recorded – up from just one the previous year, while Islamophobic incidents were down over 20 per cent.

Thames Valley police also recorded a shocking 2,000 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents, while Islamophobic offences were up 42 per cent.

The figures come after Britain’s largest force the Metropolitan Police previously revealed a horrifying 1,353 per cent rise in antisemitic attacks amid rising tensions over the conflict between 1 and 18 October. Islamophobic offences also rose 140 per cent in the same period.

The Community Security Trust described the figures as shocking and said they made clear “the extent of the unacceptable rise in anti-Jewish hatred across the country” since the Hamas attack on 7 October.

A spokesman for the Jewish charity said: “This wave of antisemitism was triggered by the mass murder, rape and kidnapping of Jews in Israel, and is fuelled and sustained by extremist hatred online and on our streets.

“It is essential that perpetrators are identified and prosecuted, and that wider society shows its disgust for this racist hate crime.”

Protestors calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in a march organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other groups (Lucy North/PA)

Tell Mama, which monitors and works to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment and abuse in the UK, said that levels of anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination are “deeply worrying”.

Iman Atta, the organisation’s director, said there had been a “significant spike in anti-Muslim hate since the atrocities on October 7”, adding: “We should never allow such hatred and intolerance to take root in our communities and at this time, please look out for each other, whether Muslim or Jewish. We must stand together against intolerance, hate and racism.”

Only 31 of the UK’s 46 police forces responded to the request for data. Although methods for recording hate crime are not consistent across police forces, the figures do point to a jump in antisemitic offences recorded by forces concentrated mostly in cities or across built-up areas, while the pattern for Islamophobic offences was more varied.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the findings “provide further evidence of the huge upsurge in antisemitism following the Hamas massacre of 7 October ”.

The board, seen as the voice of the British Jewish community with over 300 deputies directly elected by the synagogues and communal organisations they represent, said the rise in antisemitism had “caused enormous anxiety for Jewish people, particularly children and Jewish students on campus or indeed anyone easily identified as Jewish by their dress”.

A spokesman added: “We call on police to take strong action against anyone found to be perpetrating hate crimes.”

Police released footage after a Jewish woman was attacked in north London on 7 December

The Muslim Council of Britain said: “Despite the extremely low reporting rate from Muslim communities, the huge increase in Islamophobic hate crimes recorded with the police reflects what we are seeing from third-party reporting groups.

“The government’s laissez-faire attitude to Islamophobia contrasts strongly with its no-tolerance approach to antisemitism. We are hopeful this will now change.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “There is no place for hate in our society and we condemn the recent rise in reported antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred.

“We expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the CPS to make sure the cowards who commit these abhorrent offences feel the full force of the law.

“Following recent events, we have also made further funding available to Jewish and Muslim communities, to provide additional security at places of worship and faith schools.”

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