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New Report Shows Half of UK Mosques or Islamic Institutions Have Experienced Religiously Motivated Attacks in the Last Three Years

17% of mosques who have experienced an attack in the last 3 years have also experienced physical assault – including the stabbing of an imam.

17% of mosques who have experienced an attack in the last 3 years have also experienced physical assault – including the stabbing of an imam.

In a shocking new report conducted by Muslim Census with the support of MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), one of the first surveys on Islamophobic hate crimes towards mosques has shown that 42% of mosques and Islamic institutions have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years. 

Home Office data showed that between March 2020 and March 2021, almost half  (45%) of all religious hate crime offenses were targeted against Muslims, a figure that has been largely consistent in recent years, and much greater than for any other religious community. 

Some of the key findings of the report include: 

  • Almost half of all mosques or Islamic institutions surveyed have experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last 3 years. 
  • The most common form of attack experienced by mosques is vandalism followed by theft. 
  • 17% of mosques who have experienced an attack in the last 3 years have also experienced physical assault – including the stabbing of an imam.
  • 35% of mosques experience a religiously-motivated attack at least once a year.
  • 15% of mosques saw an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those mosques that experienced a religiously-motivated attack or threat of attack, 85% reported these incidents to the police. 
  • Only 55% of mosques were satisfied with the police response.
  • Just 4% of mosques secured funding for the Places of Worship (POW) scheme. 

The most common form of attack is vandalism with 51% of mosques who were attacked reporting this. Other mosques reported individuals breaking windows, vandalizing worshipers’ vehicles, and spraying racist graffiti on the mosque building.

Online abuse was also reported by 32% of mosques, describing threats of physical violence on popular social media platforms as well as general abuse. 

Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, 17% of mosques have faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshippers. One mosque reported that an Imam was stabbed outside the front entrance. Overall, 35% of mosques experience a religiously-motivated attack at least once a  year.

Attacks on mosques are common occurrences in the UK, peaking after the  Christchurch shootings in March 2019, which killed 51 people and injured 40.

And amidst the COVID pandemic, the Islamophobic crimes did not cease, with the arson attack against  Didsbury Mosque in Manchester and the stones and eggs pelted at worshippers of  Ilford Islamic Centre. Recently, over the Islamic holy month of  Ramadan, a mosque was attacked by a group armed with bottles and hockey sticks. Only 55% of mosques were satisfied with the police response after the attacks.

After the findings of this report have been made public, MEND has now called upon the police to improve links with their local Muslim community and mosques, to implement swift action when such attacks occur, and to have a full explanation given when no action is taken. MEND is also encouraging the mosque community to continue applying for the funding, despite the figures for receiving mosque funding remaining low. 

Providing evidence of vulnerability to hate crime was the most commonly cited reason making it difficult to apply, with 50% of mosques giving this reason. This was followed by contributing 20% of the costs to the security measures, likely affecting smaller mosques that would be less able to contribute such costs. 

A Mend spokesperson commented: 

“Only a third of mosques who applied for the Government Places of Worship funding received it. Considering that the government’s own data shows that nearly half of all religiously motivated hate crime is directed at Muslims, we question the degree to which mosques should need to demonstrate that they have been or can be potential victims of hate crime. We appreciate that funding cannot be given indiscriminately, but a  complicated three-stage process may deter mosques from applying for such funding.”

To read the full report, click here.

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