Baroness Warsi is to call on mosques to encourage victims of anti-Muslim hate crime to come forward.
The Senior Minister for Faith at the Department for Communities and Local Government is to write to all imams to urge them to do more to tackle the problem in their areas.
New figures show there have been nearly 500 recorded incidents of anti-Muslim attacks in England since a new government-funded helpline was established in February this year to monitor them.
But Baroness Warsi, who argued last year that Islamophobia had “passed the dinner table test”, believes that the real figure may be much higher, with victims feeling unsupported to come forward or believing that reporting will not be taken seriously.
And the minister will say that mosques can play a crucial part in helping victims have confidence that attacks will be treated seriously.
“Mosques can encourage members, through notices and talks, to report any incidents of hate crime,” she will say.
“Just as important, the mosque’s management team can put in place a register to monitor incidents and arrange to communicate this information to the police in the first instance. I know that more mosques are already doing these things, but some mosques could do more.”
She will add that, as well as enabling more prosecutions, clear and accurate data can help build a case for stronger action to be taken by all authorities.
“For me, statistics are a vital first step to tackling this issue and engaging the relevant agencies to do more to persuade others of the seriousness of the problem and do more about it,” she will say.
“The data still needs to be validated, but early indications are that nearly 60% of reported religious hate crime in 2011 was directed at Muslims.
“That shows the scale of the problem, but we need better reporting and recording and more community awareness to allow us to build up a complete picture.”
Notes to editors
Baroness Warsi and Communities Minister Don Foster were on Thursday attending a town hall event with the Muslim community in Manchester, where the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was announcing £214,000 of Department for Communities and Local Government money for the successful Monitoring Anti-Muslim Attacks [MAMA] project.
Since its inception in February 2012, MAMA has recorded the following anti-Muslim attacks in England:
- 470 reports of anti-Muslim hatred, including 181 incidents of abusive behaviour
- 58 threats to do harm
- 175 incidents of anti-Muslim literature
- 22 incidents of desecration of property
- 24 incidents of assault
- 10 incidents of extreme violence