The British government is to set up a £2.4 million fund to pay for far-reaching “protective security” measures at religious institutions and buildings.
In a worrying sign of rising tensions within Britain’s increasingly “diverse” population, churches, mosques, and temples have been invited to bid for grants to fund CCTV, perimeter fencing, bollards, intruder alarms, and security doors.
The scheme was announced on Tuesday – the day a pair of Islamic State-affiliated jihadists raided a church in Northern France, stabbing two and beheading the priest at the altar.
According to an announcement by the Home Office, an advisory panel “made up of representatives from the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities who have expertise on security issues in relation to places of worship” will decide who gets the money.
“The Jewish community will be exempt from this scheme as a similar commitment was made to fund Jewish community sites through a grant administered by the Community Security Trust,” the announcement explains.
Last month, when the Home Office granted the Community Security Trust £13m for extra security measures, it was accused of “Islamophobia” by some for not granting the same resources to Muslims.
The announcement comes in the wake of an increase in recorded hate crimes following the Brexit vote, which police have repeatedly stressed is due to better “reporting” rather than more attacks.
The stats included people reporting UKIP leader Nigel Farage for “hate” and anti-Brexit campaigners had mounted a huge social media campaign to encourage the anecdotal reporting which they and the media explicitly blamed on the Brexit vote.
The government went even further today, launching a new “hate crime action plan” which specifically targets “hate” on social media.
The plan promises extra data collection and training to identify “anti-Muslim, antisemitic, homophobic, racist and other bullying in schools”.
“Anti-Christian hate crimes” are mentioned just four times in the document. Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim “hate crimes” get more that 20 mentions each.
The plan promises to set up a “ministerial seminar with social media companies and counter-narrative work” and to “find ways in which internet providers and social media companies can help improve the response to online hate crimes”.
To this end, the government will be “engaging social media companies and internet service providers” and providing “support to young people who are exposed to hate material online…”
There will also be “targeted social media advertising [to] increase awareness of” the police’s online hate crime reporting service, so more perceived crimes are reported.
Amber Rudd, the new Home Secretary, said: “Hatred directed against any community, race or religion has no place whatsoever in our diverse society and it needs to be kicked to the curb.
“We are Great Britain because we are united by values like democracy, free speech, mutual respect and opportunity for all.
“Where crimes are committed we must make sure victims have the confidence to report incidents and the law is rigorously enforced.”