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PA/PA Wire
UK News

Religious hate crime on the rise in London

Research by Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck showed that Jews and Muslims are particularly vulnerable to religious discrimination.

The study found that fear and division between faith groups was growing as a result of the incidents.

Researcher and co-author of the report, Jonathan Smith, told Premier that an increasing exposure to hate crimes is part of the problem:

"The ability for people to witness hate crimes both in person and also online as videos are spread, means that people are exposed to a crime and this actually creates more possibilities that people will then go ahead to perpetrate more hate crimes."

Mr Smith warned that media attention can develop unhelpful stereotypes of religious groups and that people must be mindful of how they respond to them.

"It communicates a message that certain groups don't belong and when people watch this, it motivates people in different ways.

"It motivates some people to be afraid, to isolate themselves and even to take retaliatory measures against groups that they think are attacking them but it also motivates people to act in positive ways to show solidarity and support."

The forum is calling on the church to take positive action and lead the way in promoting solidarity and tolerance to those facing discrimination.

Mr Smith said: "It's important to have good responses to these events when they happen. And that's why it's important to build relationships at the local level between religious groups between Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and other groups and also having people ready to respond when incidents happen, to have a positive response."

Mr Smith shared an example of how a loving response could have a huge impact on local communities: "A mosque that was attacked in Muswell Hill in 2013 was completely burnt to the ground and as you may know, Muswell Hill, East London is the community which has a mix of very large Jewish community and Christian community and then other groups and they all sort of banded together.

"The synagogue hosted a public walk to support the mosque and the church and another organisation actually hosted the Islamic classes while the mosque was being rebuilt and the people involved said they felt such a love and support from the community that it kind of drowned out the negative message that they got from the crime itself."

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