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Status Of Societal Respect For Religious Freedom

Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016

There were numerous reports of religiously motivated hate crimes, including physical and verbal attacks against Muslim and Jewish community members, and vandalism against religious sites. Both governmental and civil society organizations reported an increase in religious hate crimes and incidents in England, Wales, and Scotland, and a decrease in Northern Ireland. In March a Sunni Muslim killed an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper outside the latter’s store in Glasgow. The killer confessed a religious motivation and was sentenced to life in prison. A university expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), based on data provided by the government, between April 2015 and March 2016 in England and Wales, there were 2,372 anti-Muslim crimes, 1,055 crimes against Christians and other religious groups such as Hindus and Sikhs; and 786 anti-Semitic crimes. In 2015, OSCE said civil society reported 96 violent attacks against Muslims (45 in 2014) and 88 against Jews (83 in 2014), and 73 attacks against Muslim property (30 in 2014) and 152 against Jewish property (152 in 2014). The Home Office reported 4,400 religious hate crimes between March 2015 and March 2016, a 34 percent increase over the previous year (3,293). It reported a sharp rise in hate crimes in England and Wales following the Brexit referendum on June 23. According to figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, there was a 41 percent increase in the number of religiously aggravated offenses in the month of July 2016 over the month of July 2015.

Other Developments in 2016

From April 2015 to March 2016, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service reported 581 charges of crimes with “religious aggravation” in Scotland (569 in the previous year). From March 2015 to April 2016, the Scottish government cited 134 anti-Muslim hate crimes (71 in the previous year), 299 charges of anti-Catholic crimes (328 in the previous year), and 141 anti-Protestant offenses (145 in the previous year). There were 50 religiously motivated incidents at Scottish soccer matches from April 2015 to April 2016 (48 in the previous year).

Some Details

The Police Service of Northern Ireland reported 23 religiously motivated crimes in 2016, up from 20 in the previous year.

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The Community Security Trust (CST), an NGO monitoring anti-Semitism, recorded 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents, a 36 percent increase from the previous year. The 1,309 incidents recorded in 2016 included 107 violent anti-Semitic assaults, an increase of 29 per cent from the 87 cases recorded in 2015. The most common single type of incident recorded by the CST in 2016 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 385 incidents (29 percent of the overall total), the victims were attacked or abused while in public places. In at least 186 of these incidents, the victims were identified as “visibly Jewish,” wearing religious or traditional clothing, or a school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols. The CST recorded 287 anti-Semitic incidents that involved social media in 2016, comprising 22 per cent of the overall total. Three-quarters of the 1,039 incidents happened in greater London and greater Manchester, the sites of the two largest Jewish communities in the country. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017

Global and Comparative Religious Freedom

Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016

A Muslim human rights lawyer reported receiving death threats after he condemned violence and extremism and called for unity within the Muslim community following the killing of Asad Shah. The lawyer reported receiving death threats by phone in the middle of the night and suffered abuse on social media. Police were investigating the case.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

In August a mosque in Rotherham received a letter stating, “Next time it will be a bomb, you Muslim scum, 1488.” NGO Tell MAMA stated the threat was sent by extremist and far-right groups, using the neo-Nazi terminology of 1488. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the “14” represents 14 words of the slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” and the “88” stands for “heil Hitler.” The incident was reported to the police and the NGO urged the public of Rotherham to remain vigilant.

Other Developments in 2016

A graduate student studying social work was expelled from Sheffield University after voicing opposition to gay marriage in a Facebook discussion. He stated that homosexual activity was contrary to his Christian beliefs and reported suffering religious discrimination from the university. At a university hearing, officials stated he was entitled to his opinion but his comment and beliefs would affect his ability to advance in the social work profession and, therefore, he was expelled from the university. The chief executive from the Christina Legal Centre condemned the ruling and stated, “This is just the latest step in a long line of cases in which professions have been closed off to Christians.”

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In March Arsenal soccer fans chanted and shouted anti-Semitic slogans and sang about the Holocaust and Auschwitz in the London Underground on the way to a match. Passengers notified the police but stated they did not adequately respond to the incident.

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According to a study published in June by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, 32 percent of approximately 300 Jewish respondents living in Scotland voluntarily reported a heightened level of anxiety, discomfort, or vulnerability, even though the survey did not directly ask them such a question. The study’s methodology included focus group discussions and questionnaires. Four in five respondents said the events in the Middle East during the summer of 2014 had negatively affected their experience of being Jewish in Scotland, while 20 respondents (7 percent) said they kept their Jewish identity secret. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017

Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016

On March 24, Sunni Muslim Tanveer Ahmed killed Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper Asad Shah outside Shah’s store in Glasgow. Ahmed claimed he killed Shah because he “disrespected the Prophet Muhammad,” and was sentenced to life in prison in August. Following the killing, there was an impromptu vigil outside Shah’s store, held by the local community, which Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended. Shortly before his killing, Shah had posted on social media, “Good Friday and very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation. Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.” It is not known whether Shah’s overtures to the Christian community contributed to his death.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

On February 18, Imam Jalal Uddin was killed walking through a children’s playground in Rochdale. Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, of Rochdale was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and found guilty on September 16. His alleged accomplice Mohammed Kadir left the country and was thought to be in Syria, according to court officials. Official reports indicated Uddin may have been targeted for practicing taweez faith healing, a form of Islamic healing in Rochdale’s Bangladeshi community, which ISIS considered to be “black magic.”

Other Developments in 2016

On June 14, two men assaulted an Afghan taxi driver in his cab. The driver, who suffered injuries to his head and body, reported the perpetrators said they were attacking him for being a Muslim. Police arrested two people in connection with the crime.

Some Details

In October a white male assaulted a Muslim woman on London’s Oxford Street, trying to remove her hijab by force after she refused to take it off. Westminster Police were investigating security footage at year’s end. In a separate incident in December an attacker in Chingford dragged a Muslim woman along the pavement by her hijab. She was taken to the hospital. NGO Tell MAMA called the incident “horrific” and said women were being disproportionately targeted in attacks on Muslims. A spokesperson for the NGO said, “For years data collected by us has shown that visible Muslim women are the ones most targeted for street-based anti-Muslim hatred.”

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On December 12, a man reportedly stabbed a passenger on a train at Forest Hill station in southeast London before chasing people outside while waving a knife in his hand and shouting, “Who is a Muslim? I want to kill a Muslim.” The victim suffered a punctured lung and wounds to his head and torso. Police identified the suspect as Adrian Brown, 38, and by year’s end was remanded in custody. His next court appearance was scheduled for January 2017. In January three men attacked three Orthodox Jews in London, pelting them with small gas canisters and yelling “Hitler is on the way to you, heil Hitler, heil Hitler!” at them. There were no injuries. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017



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  • Article Name: Status Of Societal Respect For Religious Freedom
  • Author: Owen Stone
  • Description: Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016 There were numerous reports of religiously [...]

This entry was last updated: June 9, 2020

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