Hate crimes against Muslims soar in London
LONDON - Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crimes in London have soared over the last year, official figures released on Monday showed, with global events apparently contributing to the rise.
Police recorded 816 Islamophobic offences in the 12 months to July, up more than 70 percent from 478 in the previous 12 months.
Anti-Semitic crime surged 93 percent over the same period, with 499 incidents recorded compared with 258 the previous year.
London's Metropolitan Police said "world events" may have contributed to the increase, while there was also a rise in incidents on holy days when Muslim and Jewish communities were more "visible".
A willingness by victims to report such crimes and improved ability of police to identify them were also factors, Scotland Yard said.
"In light of recent world events, we know communities in London are feeling anxious," a spokesman for the force said.
"Local Neighbourhood Policing Teams are providing a more targeted presence in key areas at key times, such as school routes, holy days and prayer times to give extra reassurance."
Fiyaz Mughal, from Tell Mama, an organisation with monitors Islamophobic incidents, said around 60 percent of victims of such offences are women wearing a hijab or headscarf.
"We also realised quite early on that women who wear niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents -- there was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator," he told the BBC.
Metropolitan Police Commander Mak Chishty moved to reassure Londoners that any reports of hate crime would be taken seriously.
"We have more than 900 specialist officers across London working in our community safety units who are dedicated to investigating hate crime," he said.
The figures come after the Community Service Trust, a Jewish security charity, reported a 53 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents across Britain between January and June, compared with the same period last year.
Some 473 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded during the first six months of 2015 compared to 309 in the first half of 2014, according to the charity which last year recorded a record high number of such incidents.