Muslims and other minority groups in Croydon have been warned by the police to “stay vigilant” and report hate crime following a spike of racist attacks after the Leave result in last week’s EU Referendum.
The Muslim Association of Croydon said ast week’s vote for Brexit has “legitimised the environment of hate that already exists for Muslims in Croydon”. They have asked Croydon police and Croydon Council to take urgent steps to safeguard the community.
True Vision, a police-funded hate-crime-reporting website, noted a 57 per cent increase in reporting between Thursday and Sunday, compared with the same period last month. Stop Hate UK, a reporting charity, has also seen an increase, while Tell Mama, an organisation tackling Islamophobia, which usually deals with 40-45 reports a month, received 33 within 72 hours.
Reports of xenophobia and racism have mounted quickly since the weekend. These have included the firebombing of a halal butchers in Walsall, attacks on Italian-run shops, graffiti on the entrance to POSK, the community centre founded by Polish Battle of Britain pilots in west London and laminated cards reading: “No more Polish vermin” being distributed near a school in Huntingdon, including being handed to some children.
According to sociologists, this is something called “celebratory racism”. Less academic types might describe it as all-too-ready bigotry and ignorance.
Marina Ahmad, Labour’s candidate for Croydon and Sutton in the recent London elections, when the city elected its first Muslim Mayor in Sadiq Khan, told Inside Croydon today of her despair at the turn of events in the past week.
Ahmad, a Muslim, said, “Thirty years ago, I was spat at in school because of the colour of my skin. I thought we had gone past that. There was a time in this country not long ago when things seemed to be getting better, and we seemed to have a more understanding and tolerant society.
“Last Thursday’s Referendum result seems to have destroyed that.”
Ashtaq Arain, the secretary of the Muslim Association of Croydon, has urged those affected by hate crime to report it. “People need to be vigilant but also people need to report the incidents if and when they happen. Very often people are reluctant to do this, particularly women who are more vulnerable than anyone else in Croydon, especially in the Muslim community.
“We have a network of people that we deal with and they have mentioned to us that there has been an increase in the number of incidents, although not as high as other parts of the country.
“Personally I think it is because Croydon is a very cosmopolitan borough and people are quite tolerant amongst themselves, but there is no doubt about it that there are incidents that have happened.”
Much has been made of UKIP’s anti-refugee poster, launched by Nigel Farage during the referendum campaign, as providing encouragement for the spate of bigoted attacks. In London, the Mayoral campaign of Zac Goldsmith, inspired by the Tory election advisor Lynton Crosby, readily trawled anti-Islamic sentiment earlier this year.
Whatever has signalled the start of this outbreak of ignorance, the police maintain such attacks are “unacceptable”. Croydon police commander, Chief Superintendent Andy Tarrant, said: “We have encouraged anyone to report any incident to us as such behaviour is clearly unacceptable – it was unacceptable before the vote and it is still unacceptable.
“We are trying to be more visible, we are trying to promote community cohesion and we are encouraging people to be more vigilant. It is not a significant issue in Croydon but we know it goes under-reported and we want people to come and tell us about it.”
- To report a hate crime call police on 101 or visit report-it.org.uk, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
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