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‘Explosion’ of Islamophobic attacks not being reported to police, politician warns

Over 65 per cent of all Islamophobic hate crimes are targeted against Muslim women, with Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab head covering overwhelmingly targeted, according to data from Tell Mama. (PA)
Over 65 per cent of all Islamophobic hate crimes are targeted against Muslim women, with Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab head covering overwhelmingly targeted, according to data from Tell Mama. (PA)

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for justice and one of the first Muslim women to be elected to the House of Commons, has warned of an “explosion” in Islamophobia not being reported to police.

It comes amid a 365 per cent surge in anti-Muslim hate incidents across the UK following Hamas’s attack on Israel in October last year.

She said: “There’s been an explosion of Islamophobia since October 7 - but there’s also a huge underreporting of the issue.”

“In my constituency, people report it to me but not the police. They kind of just put it down to the price you pay for being a Muslim in this country, (but) reporting is then what drives police policy, social policy and potential legislation. We all have a role to play.”

Ms Mahmood made the comments after the recent screening of HIJABI, a documentary created by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker, Samir Mehanovic, at the House of Commons.

The documentary charts the journeys of five British women who choose to wear the hijab and their experiences of Islamophobia in the UK and was unveiled to mark the International Day To Combat Islamophobia this Friday and International Women’s Day.

(L-R) Labour MP Shabana Mahmood; Asmaa Shuweikh, activist; Amna Abdullatif, award-winning national anti-racism campaigner; Labour MP Afzal Khan; Adama Juldeh Munu, award-winning journalist; Tasnim Nazeer, award-winning journalist and the first hijab-wearing TV reporter in Scotland; filmmaker Samir Mehanovi (UK Parliament)
(L-R) Labour MP Shabana Mahmood; Asmaa Shuweikh, activist; Amna Abdullatif, award-winning national anti-racism campaigner; Labour MP Afzal Khan; Adama Juldeh Munu, award-winning journalist; Tasnim Nazeer, award-winning journalist and the first hijab-wearing TV reporter in Scotland; filmmaker Samir Mehanovi (UK Parliament)

The heartwrenching story of a Muslim grandmother left devastated after an Islamophobic attack by teenagers and forced to flee Britain formed part of the testimonies heard in the film.

During a panel discussion after the screening, Ms Mahmood, who has been MP for Birmingham Ladywood since 2010, added: “Islamophobia has passed the dinner party test - it’s seen as acceptable. This is not just a Muslim problem, it should be addressed by all of society.”

Have you been affected by this? Contact nadine.white@independent.co.uk

Over 65 per cent of all Islamophobic hate crimes are targeted against Muslim women, with Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab head covering overwhelmingly targeted, according to data from Tell Mama.

Lee Anderson, the former Tory deputy chairman, was suspended from his party last month after accusing Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, of being controlled by Islamists.

Mr Anderson has refused to apologise for the remarks despite Rishi Sunak, Britain’s first Asian prime minister, labelling them “wrong”.

Speaking after the screening, Labour MP Afzal Khan said: “With Islamophobic hate crime having trebled since October and senior members of the Conservative Party spouting Islamophobia through the media in recent weeks, there has never been a more pressing time to listen to the testimonies of visibly Muslim women in Britain.

“Islamophobia has passed the dinner party test” (AFP via Getty Images)
“Islamophobia has passed the dinner party test” (AFP via Getty Images)

When approached by The Independent for comment, a government spokesperson said: “British Muslim women make a huge contribution to the United Kingdom and in strengthening the ties that bind our country together.

“It is unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe while practising their religion and we take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Muslim hatred.

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

Shaista Aziz, who was among the first Labour councillors to resign in protest over Keir Starmer’s response to the Gaza attacks said: “I was disappointed, in all honesty, by the fact that, at an event like this, the politicians in the room did not mention Gaza.”

“When it comes to Islamophobia, there's rightly lots of focus on the government and what is they are doing and not doing. There's no focus though, on the man who wants to become the next leader of this country: Keir Starmer.

“Labour can talk about equalities till the cows come home. However, the proof is there: anti-Black racism, Islamophobia and a hierarchy of racism. Martin Forde’s report has not been acted on. These things cannot be brushed under the carpet and I felt like there wasn't the openness that was needed this evening.”

The Labour party has been approached for comment.

A recent poll by HOPE not Hate revealed that 58 per cent of Conservative Party members think Islam is a threat to the British way of life while Labour’s support amongst British Muslims has plummeted amid major concerns about Sir Kier’s handling of the Gaza war.

London-based charity Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) reports that many Islamophobia incidents have involved people being targeted over their support for Palestine, as the Israel-Hamas war spirals on.

Speaking to The Independent, some Muslims said they have had bricks thrown through their windows for displaying the Palestinian flag, while one teenager said he was interrogated by his teachers after he wore a Palestinian badge at school.