LONDON: Hate crimes against Muslims have sparked following last week’s Westminster attack, the acting Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police said on Thursday.
Addressing the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said that the attacks that killed four and injured 50, incited hatred in the community, consequently leading to a “slight uplift” in the number of Islamophobic attacks witnessed by the police force.
“We began tracking [Islamophobic activity] straight away and we keep that tracking in progress as we speak today. We saw a slight uplift in what we call ‘Islamophobic incidents’ the day after the event but small and far smaller than we have seen in previous events.”
The situation, however, is not as bad as the aftermath of Paris and Brussels attacks, he added.
The deputy commissioner praised religious leaders for their response to the attack, saying that he believed “this was one of the reasons that Islamophobic hate crimes was down on previous occasions”.
“I think these sorts of incidents and the others we’ve seen in Europe are probably a bit of a wake-up call for the industry in terms of trying to understand what it means to put your own house in order,” said Mackey. “If you are going to have ethical statements and talk about operating in an ethical way it actually has to mean something.”
Speaking about social media influence on these matter, Mackey said that “these sorts of incidents and the others we’ve seen in Europe are probably a bit of a wake-up call for the industry in terms of trying to understand what it means to put your own house in order.
“If you are going to have ethical statements and talk about operating in an ethical way it actually has to mean something,” Makcey stated.
Social media sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter frequently face criticism on their inability to remove offensive-violence instigating material online.
The authorities’ statement was confirmed by the founder of Islamophobic helpline Tell Mama, Fiyaz Mughal who said that his organisation had witnessed a “measurable mini-spike” since last week. He also backed Mackey’s claim that the surge was not as large as the one after Charlie Hebdo office or the French capital attacks in November 2015.
Mughal, however, disagrees with Mackey’s comment that social media sites should consider the attack as a “wake-up call” to tackle violence-promoting material online. He believes it to be a “get out clause” used by the police and expressed that while authorities condemn religious material they ignore right-wing militancy.
“It’s not just militant materials, the police don’t have a clear understanding of right wing, rhetoric and material. I’ve had to explain to them what far-right material is to them and I’m not even a police officer,” said Mughal.
He emphasised that since the government did not deem important tackling right-wing material that causes hate crimes, social media companies were not dealing with the issue.
“On religious material they are great but on far-right they don’t give a damn”, he said.__Independent.com