Islamophobia in Preston: One anti-Muslim hate crime is committed every 10 days

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There is an Islamaphobic hate crime every 10 days in Preston.

The shocking revelation comes from new data acquired by the Post, which reveals almost 150 anti-Muslim hate crimes have occurred in the city in the last five and a half years.

Racist graffiti written outside the Masjid E Salaam Mosque on Watling Street Road in Preston on April 19, 2019

Racist graffiti written outside the Masjid E Salaam Mosque on Watling Street Road in Preston on April 19, 2019

The statistics reveal that 145 racially-aggravated crimes against Muslims occurred within Preston between 2014 and 2018.

READ MORE: Vandals daub racist graffiti on Preston mosque

Since 2014, there was a huge spike in 2016, with the number of crimes more than doubling to 47 from the previous year’s 22.

The data was obtained following a Freedom of Information request to Lancashire Police by the Post.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods speaks to the worshippers at Quwwatul Islam Mosque, where he and Lancashire Police were praised for their active presence in the community

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods speaks to the worshippers at Quwwatul Islam Mosque, where he and Lancashire Police were praised for their active presence in the community

And last year some 37 crimes were committed; one every 9.8 days.

Overall, Islamophobic hate crimes have risen by more than 360 per cent since 2014 where eight crimes were reported.

READ MORE: Praise for Preston's police officers, paramedics and fire fighters as they celebrate Ramadan and breaking fasting at the city's Quwwatul Islam Mosque

“It is very worrying to see such high figures of racially-aggravated crimes of an anti-Muslim nature in Preston,” said Mukhtar Master, Muslim representative for Preston Faith Covenant.

Mukhtar Master, Muslim representative for Preston Faith Covenant, has said the figures are "very worrying"

Mukhtar Master, Muslim representative for Preston Faith Covenant, has said the figures are "very worrying"

“There may be issues associated with reporting and recording, however, regardless, this trend is probably indicative of a wider scale national problem.

“It is not possible to have a society and a media which paints Islam in a negative way, a government who struggles to agree a definition of Islamophobia and mainstream politicians who make nonchalant derogatory anti-Muslim comments and for all this not to have an impact on Muslims in the UK.

“These problems are the systemic result of the society we live in, rather than just an isolated matter of fact.”

The Post also requested information on a breakdown of the data in to policing neighbourhoods, to see where the crimes were happening in Preston.

145 racially-aggravated crimes against Muslims occurred within Preston between 2014 and 2018

145 racially-aggravated crimes against Muslims occurred within Preston between 2014 and 2018

But Lancashire Police refused to provide the information as it did not possess it.

In its reply, the police said it is “not obliged” to create information in order to answer questions in a Freedom of Information request.

The Post then requested information on what specific crimes had been committed, broken down in to categories and the city’s policing neighbourhoods.

Lancashire Police said it is unable to provide this information, saying it is “likely to breach” General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In its response, the police said “due to the low numbers involved and the relatively small size of the return, there is a high likelihood of persons being identified through the release of more detailed information”.

Islamaphobic hate crimes since 2014

2014: eight crimes

2015: 22 crimes

2016: 47 crimes

2017: 31 crimes

2018: 37 crimes

'Lancashire has a diverse population...something that we are proud of'

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Lancashire has a diverse population, with people from different faiths and backgrounds, and this is something that we are proud of.

“It’s what makes us the county we are. Lancashire Constabulary prides itself on striving to make its communities safer and feel safer, this is no more so than in those communities who are particularly vulnerable to hate crime and are victimised because of animosity towards them motivated by their religion, faith, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“We are committed to tackling all crime motivated by hate and prejudice and we would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to police.

“Victims will always be dealt with professionally and sympathetically.”

- Hate crimes can be reported to police on the non-emergency number 101 and through the Lancashire Police website at www.lancashire.police.uk.

- Hate crimes can also be reported through True Vision, a national online reporting facility, at www.report-it.org.uk.

- More information can be found at www.lancashire.police.uk/help-advice/personal-safety/hate-crime.

Mosque targeted with racist graffiti

The data comes just months after one of Preston’s mosques, the Masjid E Salaam in Watling Street Road, Fulwood, was targeted with racist graffiti.

The incident, which happened in mid-April, saw two gateposts on the mosque daubed with offensive slogans written in marker pen.

Gavin Edghill, 47, of Lower Bank Road, Preston, was found guilty of racially aggravated criminal damage, racially aggravated public order and a further five offences relating to criminal damage.

He was ordered to have mental health treatment as part of a 12 month community order as well as banned from going within 50 metres of the mosque for three months.

In July he was also banned from carrying marker pens or spray paint in Preston for the next two years, with a two-year Criminal Behaviour Order imposed on him.

Islamic community praises Preston's police

During this year’s Ramadan, Preston’s Quwwatul Islam Mosque invited members of the emergency services through its doors to gain further understanding on why Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and other activities, from sunrise to sunset, every day for the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar.

Addressing the mosque before fast was broken, Lancashire Police in Preston was praised by mosque co-ordinator Khalid Ibrahim for the reassurance the mosque was given in the aftermath of global terror attacks.

IN PICTURES: Preston's Quwwatul Islam Mosque opens its doors to city's emergency services during Ramadan

He said: “This year there have been certain incidents that have taken place around the world to make us appreciate what we have around us.

“In New Zealand in a mosque, 50 people were killed within a matter of seconds.

“In Sri Lanka, 250 people were killed within a matter of minutes.

“In California, a person went in to a place of worship and tried to kill a Rabbi in a synagogue.”

Khalid then explained how the first call the mosque received after the New Zealand terrorist attack was from the police, asking how the mosque can be patrolled and safeguarded, if needed.

“You realise the blessings we have on our doorstep,” Khalid added.

“These people serve our community every single day, 24 hours seven days a week.

“They are on our doorstep every minute that we need them.

“Today is about the privilege in welcoming [the emergency services] to our mosque.”

Assistant Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, Terry Woods, then took the microphone, saying he was “very humbled” by those words.

“Our DNA is neighbourhood policing, “ ACC Woods added.

“It’s based on trust and that’s based on a relationship. I’m committed to it and my staff are.

“Regardless of what happens with money and finances you will always get that commitment.”