Monday, September 01 2014

Submission to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) 2010 report on "Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses"


Submission to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) 2010 report on "Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses"Introduction

There have been a number of events in the UK in 2010 that have contributed both context and background to incidents of anti-Muslim hatred, verbal and physical, as well as instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes.

As in previous years, the security agenda and counter-terrorism policies continue to influence and shape public and political discourse on British Muslims with debates on social, economic and political integration of minorities eclipsed by wider debates on countering radicalisation among young British Muslims.

Politics and the electoral cycle has informed events of 2010 with a general election in May of that year and the first ever challenge to the victory of an elected MP on grounds of election materials that breached the Representation of the People Act 1983.

The resulting Coalition government in the UK has also impacted on the general discourse on British Muslims with the coalition parties both framing their positions on multiculturalism policy and Muslim integration in major speeches during 2010.

A speech delivered by the first female Muslim member of the Cabinet, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, on Islamophobia has also had a tremendous impact on debates on the presence, manifestation and spread of anti-Muslim sentiments in the UK. The negative response to her speech from many quarters, ranging from outright ridicule of the notion of "Islamophobia" in the UK to allegations of communal favouritism on the part of the Baroness, are indicative of her discerning claims that anti-Muslim prejudice in the UK is prevalent and present even among the educated classes.

Other factors that have had significant impact on incidents of anti-Muslim hatred and hate crimes are the demonstrations organised by the English Defence League in town and cities across the UK. Indeed, recorded incidents at the time of or around such demonstrations show their potency in fomenting hate crimes.

As is to be expected, international events have also affected domestic considerations on the issue of anti-Muslim hatred, and on debates on Islam and Muslims in general, with noteworthy events in 2010 including Pastor Terry Jones of Florida state in the US threatening to "Burn a Koran" on the ninth anniversary of September 11th and the introduction in France and the Netherlands of a ban on the wearing of the burqa (face veil) in certain designated public places.

This report contains details of incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes which have been reported in local and national media in the UK and which have formed part of our regular monitoring of such incidents, cataloguing them on our website (www.iengage.org.uk).

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