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UK: Hate Crimes Surge in London

Anti-semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes in London have surged over the last year, figures from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) show.

Hate crimes against London’s Jewish community have increased by more than 93 percent, while crimes against Muslims have risen by 71 percent.

“In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year,” reports International Business Times (IB Times). “The boroughs worst affected were Hackney and Barnet where respectively 122 and 120 instances were reported.”

The MPS, in a statement to IB Times UK, said the rise can be attributed to various factors, including an increase in reporting, but added that increased focus on London’s 250,000-strong Jewish communities in the wake of events elsewhere had led to the surge.

“In light of recent world events, we know communities in London are feeling anxious,” the MPS said in the statement. “Local neighborhood policing teams are providing a more targeted presence in key areas at key times, such as school routes, holy days and prayer times to give extra reassurance.”

“We will not tolerate hate crime and take positive action to investigate all allegations, support victims and arrest offenders, said Commander Mak Chishty, MPS hate crime officer, adding, ”Victims of hate crime must be assured that they will be taken seriously by the police.”

Islamophobia and crimes against London’s Muslim community have also increased.

The MPS revealed that there has been a 71 percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims, with 816 offenses recorded in the last 12 months, compared to 478 offenses a year ago.

Muslim women are most likely to be targets of hate crimes, according to the police.

“There are a number of reasons why Muslim women are targeted more than men. Their physical attire obviously says they are Muslim, they are normally by themselves and with children, and the cowardice shown by perpetrators is that it is easier to attack a woman with children than it is a man,” the MPS said.

According to a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which fights anti-Semitism in the UK, there were “record high” hate crimes against the Jewish community in  2014.

This was due to “big trigger events,” including the Israeli war in Gaza and the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, which led to increased reporting, said the spokesman, noting that “between 2010 and 2013 anti-Semitic crime had fallen, but that generally there had been an increase from 2000.”

“Fiyaz Mughal, from Tell Mama, an organisation with monitors Islamophobic incidents, said around 60 percent of victims of such offences are women wearing a hijab or headscarf,” reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). 

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