Hate crimes surge in Britain

Floral tributes were left at the site where a vehicle was driven into Muslims worshippers near the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, on June 19, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Hate crimes surge in Britain

LONDON: Hate crimes in Britain surged by the highest amount on record last year, official figures showed on Tuesday, with the vote to leave the EU a significant factor. But despite the rise prosecutions fell.
There were 80,393 offenses in 2016/17, a rise of 29 percent from the year before. In the same period, hate crime prosecutions dropped to 14,480 from 15,442, a fall of 6.2 percent, according to Home Office data.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, said in a statement to Arab News: “Police forces are making themselves more visible and accessible to local communities to ensure victims or anyone feeling vulnerable has the confidence to come forward.”
“We can do better at securing convictions,” Hamilton admitted.
“Nobody should have to face hatred because of who they are.”
Shaista Aziz, a British-Muslim journalist and founder of The EveryDay Bigotry Project, a digital anti-racism platform, said: “‘Today’s data showed a correlation between political events and terrorism attacks and peaks in reported hate crime.
“Many of the victims that I work with have not reported their hate crimes to the police because they may not have a witness to the crime or because they do not have confidence in the police or, even more worryingly, they say that these racialized incidents of hate are part of their daily lives.”
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of the hate crime reporting site Tell MAMA, told Arab News: “This is concerning. We know that the Crown Prosecution Service does a sterling job in sending out a message – where crimes have taken place and it is in the public interest to prosecute, they will do so with vigor and energy.
“The CPS will be reviewing their prosecution rates though there may be something in the hate crimes which relate to the online world which are much more difficult to get evidence on.”
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years.”
Saunders added that more than half of 2016-17 cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity saw sentences “uplifted.” This means that the courts passed increased sentences in more than 6,300 cases.


Nearly 6,000 Filipino Muslims to perform Hajj this year

Updated 35 min 17 sec ago
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Nearly 6,000 Filipino Muslims to perform Hajj this year

  • Each year, two to three million people who are able to undertake the journey descend on Islam’s holiest city to deepen their faith and cleanse themselves of their sins.
  • This year, 5,800 Muslims from the Philippines will make the trip, according to Omar Mandia, chief administrative officer at the Office of the Hajj Attache, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

MANILA: On Sunday, Filipino Muslims will start their pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj — a pinnacle in every Muslim’s life.
Each year, two to three million people who are able to undertake the journey descend on Islam’s holiest city to deepen their faith and cleanse themselves of their sins.
This year, 5,800 Muslims from the Philippines will make the trip, according to Omar Mandia, chief administrative officer at the Office of the Hajj Attache, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Aside from the Filipino Muslims, some foreign diplomats will be among the delegates from the Philippines.
“There are diplomats who want to join us. They are requesting to be included. These are from the Libyan Embassy, UAE and Iran. They want to join us,” Mandia told Arab News.
“They can just arrange for their Hajj visa but they need to be accommodated in our housing and space in Mina and Arafat,” Mandia continued, as he explained that housing accommodation for pilgrims is done country-to-country, which means that the NCMF has to write a request to the Ministry of Hajj for additional slots to accommodate the diplomats.
In 2017, a total of 6,032 Filipino Muslims performed Hajj, but the number has fallen slightly this year.
“Last year, we had a bigger number of pilgrims from the Philippines, but we’ve reduced it... because of stringent visa requirements,” said Mandia.
An incident in 2016 when dozens of Indonesians were intercepted using Filipino Hajj passports en route to Makkah, prompted the authorities to introduce tight measures to ensure that no other nationalities join the Philippine contingent’s pilgrimage.
“That’s one reason why they’ve been very strict on securing the passports. They don’t want a repeat of that controversy. We are still bearing the consequence of that anomaly,” said Mandia. “We have assured them (Saudi authorities) that we have taken steps in order to prevent that from happening again,” he added.
Of the 5,800 Filipino Muslim pilgrims, the majority are from Cotabato and Lanao provinces, and include pilgrims from war-torn Marawi City.
Mandia, who will also be performing Hajj this year, added: “I’m from Marawi. Our house was destroyed during the siege. We are still not allowed to go back as it is a restricted site even today. They said there are still live bombs there you could step on and get killed.”
When he performs the pilgrimage he said that it would be “a sigh of relief after all those problematic days,” referring to the five-month battle in Marawi.
On average, a Filipino Muslim spends up to 200,000 pesos on Hajj. Some lawmakers sponsor Hajj for those who would not otherwise be able to afford to make the trip, especially those from Marawi City who suffered major devastation during the siege.
The first two batches of pilgrims are scheduled to leave on July 22 on a Saudi Airlines flight. The country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), also has direct flights to take pilgrims from the Philippines to Madinah.
“Last year they (PAL) were not able to get landing permit, so we had to land in Kuwait and an airline in Kuwait flew them to Madinah. Now they have been able to secure a landing permit so they will be transporting pilgrims directly from Philippines to Madinah,” said Mandia.