Hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim Londoners on the rise

The London boroughs with the largest Jewish and Muslim populations have experienced a surge in hate crimes during the Israel-Gaza war, Met Police data revealed. 

In Barnet, the London borough with the largest Jewish population, hate crimes rose by 124 percent between September and October.  

Tower Hamlets houses the largest share of Muslims in the capital at 39.9 percent, and the borough saw a 44 percent rise in this same period. 

The war begun on October 7th when Hamas, the party who has governed Gaza since 2006, launched an attack on southern Israel.  

An estimated 1,400 people were killed and dozens of hostages were taken, leading Israel to declare a state of war the following day.  

However, many have since decried Israel’s war on Gaza as inhumane. 

An estimated 23,084 Palestinians have perished in Gaza, and the daily death rate is higher than any other 21st century conflict, according to Oxfam.  

The tragic consequences of the conflict are being felt in London, too, with a surge in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes since October. 

Though it should be noted that Palestine is home to approximately 50,000 Christians, the conflict is commonly politicised as a religious conflict between Judaism and Islam.  

It is these two groups who have been affected most since October 7th.  

The Community Support Trust (CST) is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.  

In the 68 days following the Hamas attack on Israel, CST recorded 2,093 antisemitic incidents across the UK, the most they have witnessed in this time-frame since their records began in 1984. 

A CST spokesperson said: “The significant and sustained increase in antisemitic hate crime in London, and nationally, since the Hamas terror attack on 7th October is appalling and should be roundly condemned. 

“It is outrageous that British Jews are being harassed, threatened and attacked at random because of a conflict thousands of miles away.”

The Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) is an independent charity that supports victims of Islamophobia in England and Wales.  

They experienced a 365 percent increase in cases reported during October and the total figure was the highest they have ever recorded. 

An IRU spokesperson said: “This stark increase is undeniably alarming and underscores the urgency of addressing this issue.”

In addition to hate crimes, the IRU reports that Muslims have faced animosity in their places of schooling and employment, particularly when expressing solidarity with Palestinians.  

The spokesperson said: “In terms of school cases, parents have expressed valid concerns about their children being unfairly vilified and disproportionately reprimanded for advocating their support for Palestinian rights. 

“Muslim employees, who have openly expressed their support for Palestine, are facing disciplinary investigations.  

“Their commitment to a cause they hold dear is being unfairly questioned and scrutinised, impacting their careers and livelihood.”

The spike identified by CST and IRU is reflected in hate crime data for London.   

Hate crimes rose by 24.5 percent in the capital between September and October, but the spike was even more severe in areas with large Jewish and Muslim populations.  

Barnet, Hackney, and Camden are the London boroughs with the largest Jewish populations.  

In 2023, anti-Semitic hate crime was more pronounced in these three boroughs than London as a whole.  

Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Redbridge are the three London boroughs with the largest Muslim populations.   

Across 2023, the share of hate crimes classed as Islamophobic was higher than the London average in all three boroughs.  

All six of these boroughs saw an increase in Hate Crime incidents in October and all but Redbridge experienced a larger spike than the London average.  

Compared to the monthly average for 2023, the rise in hate crimes is similarly striking.   

With each of these offences, feelings of safety and belonging are being eroded.  

CST is calling for a collective response to rising anti-Semitism.  

A CST spokesperson said: “We need the perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted, but more than that we need wider society to stand against this hatred and show their support for the Jewish community.”  

The IRU also states that society as a whole must act to stamp out discrimination.  

An IRU spokesperson said: “It is essential that we confront these instances of discrimination and harassment head-on, working collectively to foster an environment of inclusivity and respect for diverse viewpoints and backgrounds.  

“Such actions not only contravene basic principles of human rights and freedom of expression but also risk perpetuating division and intolerance within our society.”

If you have been affected by Anti-Semitic or Islamophobic hate crime you can report incidents and find support via the Community Support Trust, Islamophobia Response Unit, and TellMAMA websites.  

Image credit: David Howard licenced under CC BY 2.0 DEED

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