CAIRO - A new British study has accused far-right anti-Islam English Defence League (EDL) of being responsible for third of the attacks that targeted the Muslim community in Britain over the past year.
"Such is the growth of online hate' that a 2009 compendium of web-hate sites, games, and chat rooms ran to more than 160 pages," the report by the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University was quoted by The Huffington Post.
"The EDL, in particular, views online activity as central to its organizational identity. Facebook is the favored mode of communication between EDL supporters.
"Online expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment have reached significant proportions, with 74% of incidents reported to Tell Mama taking place online compared to 26 per cent being committed in the physical world."
Titled, Anti-Muslim Hate Crime and the Far Right, the report is based on the data of the annual report issued by anti-Islamophobia monitor Tell Mama.
The research found that the majority of abuse directed at Muslims offline was not, however, linked to any organized far-right movement.
Yet, it accused the far-right EDL as the most implicated in disseminating anti-Muslim hate online.
Of 434 incidents of online abuse, 300 were linked to a far-right movement, and 147 of those were linked to the EDL - a third of all online anti-Muslim incidents.
Moreover, the report found that there was a "troubling picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbors and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but can still have an emotionally distressing, and in some cases devastating, effect on people's lives and their communities."
The report was based on 2012-2013 data collected prior to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, which sparked a series of anti-Muslim attacks and demonstrations.
According to Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, 212 anti-Muslim incidents have been reported after the Woolwich attack.
The figure included 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
These attacks carried the flavor of the far-right after swastikas and the letters EDL [English Defence League], KKK [The Ku Klux Klan] and NF [The National Front] were sprayed on mosque walls.
Reporting the increasing attacks, vigilant Muslims wanted government and social media to intervene to stop online Islamophobia
"Whereas once people might have just blocked abusers, changed accounts or shut down social media as a reaction to abuse, now they are reporting it," Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, said.
"When you speak to Twitter or others, they don't want to know. you have to go to them with this bulk of evidence, and ask government to take it on too.
There's an All-Party-Parliamentary-Group on Islamophobia, which is practically defunct. We have to give them real meaty evidence that they can work on," he added.
Offline incidents that were reported were mainly street based (55%) with 18 per cent taking place at mosques and other Islamic institutions and 13% at workplaces and schools.
Of the reported offline offences the majority of victims were female and, of these, over 80% were women who were easily identifiable as Muslim, i.e. wearing the hijab or niqab.
Mosques also had their share of attacks.
Since 9/11, between 40 and 60 per cent of mosques, Islamic centers, and Muslim organizations have experienced at least one form of attack that could have been reported as hate crime, the report said.
They estimate that a figure of between 100 and 200 hate crimes a year against mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations is not unreasonable and probably highly conservative'
The researchers also found that most Muslims, 63%, who reported to incidents to Tell MAMA did not report abuse or attacks to the police.
"Compared to other minorities vulnerable to hate crime, Muslims are treated differently," the report's authors said.
"While LGBT communities, for instance, are portrayed in police discourse as vulnerable to hate crime, and policy is focused on building trust with these communities, Muslims are not generally portrayed in such a straightforward manner.
"Although they are seen as vulnerable to hate crime, the primary focus has been on their vulnerability to extremism or radicalization. The police, therefore, face a dilemma: should they adopt hard' or soft' engagement strategies in dealing with Muslim communities?"
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net