Source: Huffington Post
By Carol Kuruvilla
New U.K. data show that nearly two-thirds of the targets were perceived to be either Muslim or Jewish.
Religious hate crimes have spiked dramatically in England and Wales over the past year, according to newly released data from the U.K.’s Home Office.
Police in England and Wales recorded 8,336 hate incidents that appeared to be motivated by the victim’s religion between April 2017 and March 2018 ― a 40 percent rise from the previous fiscal year, the BBC reports.
More than half of those religion-based hate crimes (52 percent) were directed at people who were perceived to be Muslims.
This is the first time that the annual U.K. government study, published on Tuesday, has included data about the perceived religion of hate crime targets. The Home Office started requiring police officers to collect this information in 2017, realizing that a victim’s perceived and actual religion may not always be the same.
Harun Khan, secretary general of the umbrella group Muslim Council of Britain, said that the new figures should prompt the government to take meaningful action against Islamophobic attacks. “No longer can the Government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked,” Khan said in a statement.
The Home Office report suggested that the surge in reported hate crimes was driven by improvements in the way these crimes are identified and recorded by police. But the study also noted that, based on monthly data, hate crimes appeared to spike following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017 and the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016.
Those spikes seem to support advocacy groups’ claims that attacks on minorities increase after national news events that stimulate public discourse on immigration.