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Islamophobia surges in Liverpool following terror attack

Islamophobia surges in Liverpool following terror attack

Muslim people are reporting incidents of islamophobia and racial hatred after last Sunday’s terrorist incident at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, religious leaders and an MP have revealed.

Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said her team “had been hearing incidents where women wearing the hijab are facing abuse”.

These incidents have come promptly after suspected terrorist Emad al-Swealmeen, a Christian convert who had reportedly had an asylum claim rejected in 2014, blew himself up with a home-made bomb. He died after the device exploded in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday. Taxi driver David Perry survived the blast.

Ms Johnson further stated that these incidents “always provoke a spike in race hate and particular in the Muslim community.”

A joint statement of solidarity was delivered by multi-faith representatives outside Liverpool women’s hospital on Tuesday.

The Rev Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, the rector of Liverpool, said the attack had “shocked people of every faith – and those of no faith – across the city”. He added: “Terrorism is an indiscriminate act against people of all faiths and backgrounds. It seeks to destroy our lives of peaceful coexistence and disrupt the functioning of society.”

Leyla Mashjari, an associate director of Al-Ghazali Multicultural Centre, representing Liverpool’s Muslim community, said: “At this difficult time let us remember that there is more that unites than divides us.”

She said she had heard indirect reports of Islamophobia since the weekend. “We haven’t heard directly from people but it’s going around the city that a few ladies have had scarves pulled off, issues like that. So, what we are trying to do is get the word out that we are working with organisations including the city council, and that people should report these crimes rather than just ignore them,” she said.

Mohammed Shafiq, from the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “Terrorists set out to divide communities and we must not allow them to succeed.

“They are responsible for some of the most heinous crimes and they should be brought to justice.

“Liverpool is a tolerant and diverse city which prides itself on its inclusivity and protection of all communities.”

Research has shown that terrorist incidents can cause surges in hate crimes towards communities that which the perpetrators are associated with. In the UK, Muslim communities face upticks in Islamophobic abuse following incidents like Sunday’s.

Such hate crimes have been shown to be highly concentrated in less densely populated suburban areas with a higher share of Arab and Muslim populations (and lower British and White populations).

The role of the media does nothing to alleviate this issue, its reporting on terrorism being both highly sensitive and controversial. Recent research has found that terrorist attacks by a Muslim perpetrator attract on average about 4.5 times more media coverage, controlling for a number of characteristics. In other countries like the U.S., media outlets disproportionately emphasize the smaller number of terrorist attacks by Muslims – which could lead to Americans having an exaggerated sense of a jihadi terrorism threat.

A report from the United Nations in March of this year warned of growing Islamophobia and excessive surveillance of Muslims in countries around the world. It seems as though state institutions and the media have only become motors in a world-wide problem of islamophobia and the cycles of violence that exist within it, alienating and vilifying the Muslim community in the process.

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