Muslim women most common victims of hate crime campaigns on social media: UK study

Islamophobes are targeting Muslim women in online hate campaigns, according to a new study published Thursday by the International Business Times UK on its website.

A Birmingham City University study examined hundreds of Facebook pages, posts and comments as part of an extensive survey of the spread of anti-Islam hate speech online, including those associated with far right groups Britain First and the English Defense league.

They found 500 instances of Islamophobic abuse, in which Muslims were branded terrorists and rapists, alleged to be waging "war" on non-Muslims, and in which calls made for Muslims to be deported, as part of a campaign to "incite violence and prejudicial action." Women wearing Islamic dress are branded a "security threat."

There is evidence of the hatred spilling into attacks and real life abuse, with a 326 percent surge in Islamophobic incidents recorded last year, and more than half of the victims were women.

Researcher Imran Awan said that the recent murder of MP Jo Cox and the surge of racist attacks in the wake of the Brexit vote showed the urgency of tackling online hate speech. "What has shown is that the far right and those with links and sympathies with the far right were using Facebook and social media to in effect portray Muslims in a very bad and negative fashion," Awan said.

The study found that 80 percent of the abuse was carried out by men, who singled out Muslim women for attacks, with 76 posts portraying women wearing the niqab or hijab as a "security threat." The next most frequent form of abuse called for Muslims to be deported, with 62 instances recorded.

The study coincided with Home Secretary Amber Rudd's announcement of the launch of a campaign to combat hate crime in the UK, particularly since the police recorded more than 6,000 hate crimes in the wake of the 23 June EU Referendum. The Muslim Council of Britain recorded 100 crimes in the weekend after the referendum.

Similarly, Islamophobia monitoring group Tell MAMA found a 326 increase in Islamophobic incidents last year, with Muslim women "disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers."
"We have known that visible Muslim women are the ones targeted at a street level, but what we also have seen in Tell MAMA, is the way that Muslim women who are using social media platforms, are targeted for misogynistic and anti-Muslim speech,” said Tell MAMA director Fiyaz Mughal.

"We are also aware from our work in Tell MAMA, that the perpetrators age range has dropped significantly from 15-35 to 13-18 showing that anti-Muslim hate in particular is drawing in and building a younger audience which is daunting for the future,” he added.

It is to be noted that Facebook recently signed up to a new European Union code of conduct obliging it to remove hate speech from its European sites within 24 hours.

United Kingdom | News | 2016-08-06 |