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‘Drastic action needed’ after large spike in Islamophobic incidents in Redbridge after terror attack

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:45 04 August 2017

Wes Streeting MP at a Redbridge Islamic Centre open day earlier this year, with Vaseem Ahmed. Both Mr Streeting and the Centre's leader Bashir Chaudhry have condemned the attack on the Woodford Muslim Cultural Centre on Monday.

Wes Streeting MP at a Redbridge Islamic Centre open day earlier this year, with Vaseem Ahmed. Both Mr Streeting and the Centre's leader Bashir Chaudhry have condemned the attack on the Woodford Muslim Cultural Centre on Monday.

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A charity has said “drastic action” is needed after police confirmed there were 16 reported Islamophobic incidents in Redbridge in June, more than in previous months combined.

Case study

As part of our investigation into a rise in Islamophobia after the terrorist attacks, a 24-year-old British-Bangladeshi woman, from Redbridge, got in touch.

“I was on the Jubilee line going home after a meal when two white guys got on and stood directly behind me. I felt one of the guys touch the back of my head so I shuffled forward and then within 30 seconds he pulled down on my hijab.

“I was angry and confronted him. He told me to shut up and challenged me to get off the tube.

“I’m still processing everything that happened but all I know is that I feel so violated and unsafe.

“Once I got to Stratford I saw police and reported it.

“Initially I kept telling myself I wasn’t afraid of him but I broke down in tears when the police officer asked me: ‘Did he make you feel like he was going to be more violent towards you?’

“At the time all I could think was ‘what if he throws acid at me?’”

Data seen by the Recorder shows that the spike in hate crime occurred after the London Bridge terror attack.

According to Redbridge Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) three residents have reported incidents to them since the start of July alone.

Vaseem Ahmed, chairman of Redbridge MEND, said the police and Redbridge Council need to make hate crime a priority issue.

“Residents have reached the level where they are scared to get on a tube for fear of being a victim,” he said.

“These cowards seem to particularly attack women who are dressed in a visibly Muslim way. Police and the council need to take ownership of this and do something about it – confident, educated women are scared to go out.”

MEND has discovered that Ilford Lane has become a “hotspot” for attacks.

Mr Ahmed said police need a quicker response times to hate crime as victims can be seen four or five days after an incident has occurred and more third party reporting centres should be set up.

Det Insp Robin Peel, who covers hate crime for the East Area Command Unit, reviewed four of the crimes from June and only one had a victim willing to attend court.

“Regrettably, there is always a significant spike in Islamophobia following any terrorist activity, particularly if those attacks are in the capital,” he said.

“Whilst we can take some heart from the knowledge that the manifestation of Islamophobia is short lived, it is crucial that we get onto the front foot after these events to bring our communities together.”

“Most of our prosecution attempts will fail for want of evidence to take an allegation beyond a word-against-word scenario which will not overcome the burden of proof.”

Det Insp Peel made an appeal for more hate crime witnesses to come forward

“Independent witnesses are the thing that really unlock the difficulties in bringing racists to justice, and convicting a few of them should be the beginning of a virtuous circle for reporting and identifying witnesses,” he added.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said: “I have picked up upon a high amount of fear and anxiety with the local community and I am concerned about the impact of recent (hate crime) attacks.

“I have been working with the council and police to shape an action plan and in the summer I am going to be holding a public meeting about this.

“(In terms of recent acid attacks) Police need to give out more information and I have spoken to the Met commissioner and it is my understanding that a lot of the acid attack have been gang related and not targeting the public.”

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