A project purporting to measure the number of anti-Muslim attacks in Britain exaggerated the scale of the problem, according to a report now backed up by Press Complaints Commission.
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of ‘Tell Mama’, had claimed there had been a “wave of attacks” against Muslims, with a total of 212 ‘Islamophobic incidents’ reported to it by June 2013. Mughal told the Guardian that he could not see an end to the “cycle of violence”, calling it “unprecedented”.
He said that there had been a “massive spike in anti-Muslim prejudice,” and that “a sense of endemic fear has gripped Muslim communities.”
However, the Telegraph reported that many of these claims were exaggerations at best. Out of the 212 ‘Islamophobic incidents’ reported by Tell Mama, 57 percent happened only online, and a further 16 percent of incidents had not been verified. Also, some of the online abuse may have originated outside of Britain.
Only eight percent of incidents involved physical targeting, and no attacks were serious enough to require medical treatment.
The spike in attacks was actually slightly less than after 7/7, according to the Metropolitan Police.
When the Telegraph made these claims, Mr Mughal took the paper to the Press Complaints Commission. According to the journalist Andrew Gilligan, he also got his supporters to write letters, accusing the paper of behaviour “better suited to the days of 1930s Germany.”
Now, the Press Complaints Commission have thrown out complaints, last week ruling that the Telegraph’s reporting was “not inaccurate”.
Commenting on the decision, Gilligan wrote: “Mughal does seem to spend too much of his time picking silly fights… Perhaps it’s time to get back to the day job? Although anti-Muslim hate crime in Britain appears (with the exception of the brief spike after Rigby) to be diminishing, not growing, there remain… real and significant anti-Muslim hatred in this country, and it’s disgraceful.
“The work Tell Mama does could be very valuable. Mughal is saying some good things, and making some good allies. But if it’s not done scrupulously, it fuels the very fear and distance between communities it’s supposed to be tackling.”