Islamophobia, anti-Semitism: Why the rise in hate crime?

Reports of hate crimes have been rising in the UK for the past three years. Anti-Muslim crimes will now be recorded as a separate category of hate crime, like anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) crimes have been for a good while. So what actually is a hate crime, and why does it seem to be increasing? Scenes of Reason had a look-see to find out.


What is a hate crime?


It does what it says on the tin. It’s a crime which is perceived by the victim or anyone else to be motivated by hate – that’s the UK Home Office definition.

Hate: Hostility towards someone based on a personal characteristic. The five types of personal characteristics hate crimes can be recorded under are (1) race or ethnicity (2) religion or beliefs (3) sexual orientation (4) disability and (5) transgender identity.

Crime: A criminal offence. Specifically assault, harassment, causing public alarm and criminal damage.


What does a hate crime look like?


A woman was arrested October 2015 after she aired her views on a London bus.



Just days later, this ever worse video came out.


Are people getting more hateful and crimeful?


Home Office stats tell us that nearly 53,000 hate crimes were recorded by the police between 2014 and 2015. That’s an 18% increase from the year before. 82% of these were race hate crimes. 11% were against sexual orientation, 6% against religion, 5% against disability and 1% against transgender identity.

Hate crimes can be motivated by more than one kind of hatred. Haters got a lot of hate in their hearts. This is why these stats add up to more than 100%. Just in case you thought we couldn‚Äôt add up ūüėČ

The number of Anti-Semitic hate crimes and Islamophobic hate crimes – like the ones in the videos above – are getting scary high.

The London Met police reported that hate crimes against Jewish people increased by 138% in 2014 – from 208 to 495.

Doing research for this we found there are A LOT of stock photos of Orthodox Jews and Met Police. We thought it was just women laughing alone with salad..

Doing research for this we found there are A LOT of stock photos of Orthodox Jews and Met Police. We thought it was just women laughing alone with salad..

In the same period, Islamophobic hate crimes increased by over 47%, from 529 to 778.

So anti-Semitic crimes have increased by the most, and Islamophobic crimes were higher to begin with and remain higher now. FYI This is obviously not a competition! We just wanted you to know what’s actually going on.

This is not just a London thing either. UK police have reported that anti-Semitic crimes have increased UK-wide by around 50%. In the year following the attack on Lee Rigby – a British soldier murdered by two men ‚Äúbecause Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers‚ÄĚ – government-backed Islamic group Tell Mama report that Islamophobic incidents have increased by 20%.

Islamophobia – Islamo-NO-bia

The most recent Home Office statistics don’t only show that Muslim adults are the most likely to be a victim of religious hate crime, but also that Muslim adults are among those most likely to be a victim of a racist hate crime.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes have for a good while been recorded as a separate category of hate crime. The same goes for anti-Muslim and Islamophobic hate crimes for the London Met police. PM David Cameron is now encouraging all UK police to record anti-Muslim crime as its own separate category.

Some newspapers are reporting it as anti-Muslim crimes to be “taken as seriously” as anti-Semitic crimes — is that not how it was before?


Why? Just why all the hate?


Stats don’t tell you everything. These are the numbers of crimes being reported to the police, and the police and government reckon that the number of crimes being reported is increasing literally because more people are reporting them, not because there are more crimes than there were before. Yay?

We can’t break out the belly dancing and the oom-pah band to celebrate though. The London Met police also reckon that the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic crime is on the up because of the Israel’s attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014 and the rise of so-called Islamic State.

These are classic cases of large and seriously diverse communities of people getting a bad reputation from small but high-profile minorities within that community. By minorities we mean ISIS and extremist terror groups in the case of the Muslim faith. In terms of the Jewish faith we mean the policies of the Jewish-state of Israel, about¬†which many people counting themselves among the Jewish community have numerous diverse, complex and deeply-considered views. Problem is, these details, disagreements and diverse views often get lost within media representation¬†of the world’s ongoing conflicts.¬†¬†

This video explores the impact of the media representation of Muslims. Has ‘Muslim’ become unfairly synonymous with ‘terrorist’ in many people’s minds?



Here is a list of ways in which people who want to publicly criticise Israel’s violence against Palestine can end up bad-mouthing the entire Jewish faith. Bit of a leap there.

Want to dig deeper?¬†Watch Mehdi Hassan’s eyes flicker with the flame of eternal knowledge in this debate¬†on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, then come back to us with more questions for us to answer.



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Is Russia really racist, homophobic and extremist?

The news tells us: Russia is racist and homophobic. Is this true Рor is the Western media portraying Russia in a certain way?





Is Russia racist?

Racism is prejudice and/or discrimination against someone of a different race. It’s¬†the¬†belief that your own race is superior to others. A¬†study by the¬†Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia found that around 70% of Russians hold¬†negative feelings about¬†people of another ethnicity.

Back in 2009 research¬†by the Sova Centre for Information and Analysis found that the¬†number of victims of racist attacks had actually dropped for the first time in six years. However, the centre¬†stated that “xenophobic violence remains alarming in its scope and extends over most of the Russian regions, affecting hundreds of people.”

In recent years many articles in the media have expressed concern about an increase in racist activity in Russia. The most recent example gaining a lot of media attention related to a football game. Emmanuel Frimpong is a footballer from Ghana in Africa, who plays for Arsenal. Frimpong claims he heard racist chants and monkey noises when playing against the Russian team Spartak Moscow. Not cool.

This isn’t just an isolated incident. Anti-discrimination group the¬†Fare Network¬†released a report on¬†racist activity in Russian football. They list 99 racist displays in Russian football from 2012 to 2014, and¬†21 incidents of violence linked to racism. The Fare Network say¬†these figures are ‚Äúfar from exhaustive‚ÄĚ. It¬†adds that they can ‚Äúonly be indicative of a wider problem‚ÄĚ.¬†Meaning that in reality things are probably a lot worse.

Many people believe Russia should not be allowed to host the football World Cup in 2018 due to this recent racist behaviour. The obvious question: why are things so bad?


Russia is all “united” now, but against who?

Russia - Extremist, Homophobic and Racist. President Vladimir Putin with a gun

Russian nationalism: President Putin’s “macho” image is all about portraying a strong Russia

Russia’s President Putin leads the United Russia political party. When he came into power in 2000,¬†the country¬†was not in the best of places. It had¬†suffered a financial crisis in 1998 when the Russian stock market collapsed.¬†The Washington Post describes how Putin, facing opposition from other parties, needed ‚Äúan ideology of power” to inspire the country.

This new ideology included the values of nationalism and patriotism. Basically: Russia is the best, and we are becoming stronger.

Patriot Park is a good example of this “pro-Russia” approach.¬†It’s a ‚Äúmilitary Disney-land‚ÄĚ where families can explore military vehicles and weapons. Yes, a theme park for Russian military strength. You can‚Äôt make this stuff up.

Extreme nationalism is sometimes described as a far-right ideology. Extreme racist views are also described this way. The Fare Network believes that the rise in racism can be linked to the spread of a new far-right ideology, found in Russian football supporters in the late 1990s. It’s worth saying that not all far-right ideas lead to racist activity.

According to the Fare Network ‚Äúthe situation inside [football] stadiums reflects societal developments coinciding in certain periods with rise in nationalist rhetoric of the government.‚ÄĚ

What this means: racist behaviour is on the rise and this could have a link to increases in patriotic and nationalist language used by the government.

Putin’s nationalist¬†language seems to be working. The Pew Research Centre reports that the percentage of Russians with a very favourable image of their own country has risen from 29% in 2013 to 63% today.

However, Putin’s nationalism¬†may not be to blame for an¬†intolerance of diversity. Historian and journalist¬†James Pearce believes racist attacks across Russia could simply be a response to what Russians see as a failure to integrate into their society. “Russians¬†are also¬†still ‘adjusting’ to foreigners, many have never even met one.”



Is Russia homophobic?

LGBT activists were attacked during an action "Day of Kisses" against a homophobic bill that would prevent "non-traditional sexual relations propaganda among minors", aka the "gay propaganda ban" in front of the State Duma in Moscow, Russia.   –ú–ĺ—Ā–ļ–≤–į. –ź–ļ—Ü–ł—Ź –į–ļ—ā–ł–≤–ł—Ā—ā–ĺ–≤ –õ–ď–Ď–Ę —Ā–ĺ–ĺ–Ī—Č–Ķ—Ā—ā–≤–į "–Ē–Ķ–Ĺ—Ć –ü–ĺ—Ü–Ķ–Ľ—É–Ķ–≤" –Ņ—Ä–ĺ—ā–ł–≤ –Ņ—Ä–ł–Ĺ–ł—Ź—ā–ł—Ź –≥–ĺ–ľ–ĺ—Ą–ĺ–Ī–Ĺ–ĺ–≥–ĺ –∑–į–ļ–ĺ–Ĺ–į —É –ď–ĺ—Ā–Ē—É–ľ—č –≤ –ú–ĺ—Ā–ļ–≤–Ķ –∑–į–ļ–ĺ–Ĺ—á–ł–Ľ–į—Ā—Ć –ł–∑–Ī–ł–Ķ–Ĺ–ł—Ź–ľ–ł –į–ļ—ā–ł–≤–ł—Ā—ā–ĺ–≤ –ł –∑–į–ī–Ķ—Ä–∂–į–Ĺ–ł—Ź–ľ–ł.

Is Russia homophobic? LGBT activists under attack in Moscow

Homophobia is the hatred or fear of homosexuals.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, yet¬†many¬†gay Russians¬†hide their true sexuality. They¬†fear¬†what might happen if they’re¬†discovered.

Polling company Levada Center discovered 37% percent of Russians think homosexuality is a disease which needs to be cured.

An article in GQ is just one of many which details violent attacks on members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Gay pride rallies are often hijacked by extreme homophobic groups. It has also been reported that homophobic groups trick gay men into meeting for a date then film the torture of their victim and post the footage online.

When many people celebrated the legalisation of gay marriage in America by changing their online profile pictures to a rainbow flag, many Russian users changed their picture to the Russian national flag. The Russian version of SIRI, the iPhone personal assistant,¬†got caught¬†making homophobic comments. The “system error” which led to this was¬†corrected.

The Fare Network report points out that ‚Äúalthough the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community are not the primary target of discriminatory abuse inside [football] stadiums, these spaces remain ‚Äėno-go‚Äô areas for them.‚ÄĚ

Again, this isn’t just about football.¬†This video seems to make a point in evidencing that even basic public displays of affection between a gay couple could be problematic;


Further evidence

New laws are making it more and more difficult for Russians to express their sexuality.

Is Russia homophobic? Gay activist Kirill Kalugin has been arrested several times for protesting for gay rights

Is Russia homophobic? Gay activist Kirill Kalugin has been arrested several times

In 2012 the city of Moscow banned gay pride events. Was this ban for the year? No, it was for the next ONE HUNDRED years. The government said Pride events would spread disorder and that people living in the city didn’t want it. It’s not clear what they plan to do when the 100 year ban expires.

Then a 2014 law banned educational material about homosexuality for under 18s. The exact wording of the new law was:

‚ÄúPropaganda is the act of distributing information among minors that 1) is aimed at the creating nontraditional sexual attitudes, 2) makes nontraditional sexual relations attractive, 3) equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations, or 4) creates an interest in nontraditional sexual relations.‚ÄĚ

Educating kids about homosexuality would mean you are guilty of breaking the law. Russians who break the law face a 5,000 rouble fine (£50). The penalty is even worse for schools at 500,000 roubles (£5000). Foreigners can also face a fine, jail time for up to 15 days, and even get kicked out of the country. Way to kill the mood, Russia.


Religious Values?

Is Russia Homophobic? Group shot of the band Pussy Riot

Feminist punk rock band “Pussy Riot” were arrested after protesting against President Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church is Russia’s largest religion.¬†90% of Russians say they are¬†Orthodox (though 75% admit only attending church only once a year, or not at all).

Writer¬†Andrew Kornbluth¬†comments¬†that Russian homophobia is ‚Äúa psychological coping strategy”. It’s a response¬†to “a distinct trauma: the long-ago disintegration of the same ‘traditional values’ that the homophobes profess to be defending.‚ÄĚ

As we mentioned above, President Putin is attempting to revive¬†traditional values¬†of nationalism across Russia.¬†Forbes Magazine¬†describes how Putin¬†noticed how the Russian Orthodox Church played a “useful role in boosting nationalism and the fact that it shared his view of Russia‚Äôs role in the world”.

Putin strengthened the Church’s role in Russian society. The Church now teaches religion in Russian schools and is able to review legislation going before the Russian parliament. So, what are they teaching?

Is Russia homophobic? Protesters from the Russian Orthodox Church at a Gay Pride event in Moscow, 2010

Protesters from the Russian Orthodox Church at a Gay Pride event in Moscow, 2010

Recently Putin praised the Russian Orthodox Church for inspiring a¬†‚Äúspirit of patriotism‚ÄĚ in young Russians and for preserving Russia’s “rich cultural and historical heritage and in reviving eternal moral values‚ÄĚ.

These moral values don’t seem to include homosexuality.¬†The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says that gay marriage is “a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom”¬†and that every effort should be taken to make sure “sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law.”

President Putin’s push for a patriotic Russia¬†isn’t to blame for Russian homophobia, but the power of the Russian Orthodox Church over Russia probably isn’t helping matters. As for the church, they believe they are protecting traditional moral values.

Speaking out against Putin and the Church¬†will get you into¬†trouble. Feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot¬†often incorporate LGBT themes into their work. In 2012 they performed a song “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” This act of protest against¬†President Putin was performed in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. ¬†Members of the band were arrested; the head of the Church said they were doing the work of the devil. Not exactly constructive criticism.


2) The flip side: Does Russia have a problem, or is the media wrong?


Whose side are you on?

Screenshot of the Guardian asking "Is Western media biased towards Russia?"

Is Western media biased towards Russia?

Western media has got a little fixated with Russia. But is the media biased against Russia? This year the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies launched a ‚Äúmass media hostility index‚ÄĚ. Sounds ominous; it‚Äôs actually quite clever. It measures the anti-Russia bias in the media, and aims to identify which countries are bad-mouthing Russia.

According to the study, throughout 2014 Western media increased its ‚Äúanti-Russian propaganda‚ÄĚ. The brains behind the study called this the start of an ‚Äúinformation war‚ÄĚ against Russia.

Of course, 2014 was the year Russia nicked a patch of land called the Crimea from Ukraine. Western countries especially, were not impressed by this. So, it might be no surprise that our media started bashing Russia for what it considers an illegal takeover. But, there are always two sides to every story.


Extreme Russia?

This year the British presenter and DJ Reggie Yates traveled to Russia to film a documentary series: Extreme Russia. It covered the rise in Russian nationalism, homophobia and the modelling industry.


The documentary was praised for exploring the rise of extremism in Russia. Not everyone was a fan, though. Journalist and historian James Pearce wrote an article claiming that the documentary series only showed one side of the story.

Pearce wrote, ‚Äúin simple terms, what Reggie Yates has done, is play on an existing prejudice and told a British audience ‚Äėthis is Russia‚Äô; a country full of neo-Nazi‚Äôs, homophobes and child models.‚ÄĚ

According to Pearce the documentary showed off ‚Äúthe worst sides of some extremist groups‚ÄĚ and did not explore why these groups have grown in popularity.

We asked him¬†where he thinks the current¬†racist and homophobic¬†stereotypes come from. He believes it stems from small truths being blown out of proportion. “In Russia, it is not a crime to be homosexual – in India it is and seven African nations have the death penalty for it, yet people don’t seem to be discussing this… Moscow has gay clubs, as does St Petersburg. This¬†isn’t to say homophobia is non-existent¬†but by and large, Russia remains a conservative society.”

According to Forbes Magazine, Russia sees itself as “neither Western nor Asian, but rather a unique society representing a unique set of values which are believed to be divinely inspired.”

Pearce quotes Russian filmmaker¬†Andron Konchalovskiy who said¬†“It’s too bad we’re not blue, green or purple. That way they’d [the West] get off our backs… The West expects us to act like they act. They go after us all the time. Do you know why? It’s because we look like them. If we looked different they’d get off our backs.”

Pearce¬†also argues¬†that countries like China, Saudi Arabia and¬†Qatar do not receive as much¬†criticism for being undemocratic or living up to western standards.¬†Do we think Russia should act like a Western country, because the Russians look like us? “Many Russians believe this is the problem too.¬†Russians look like Westerners but in fact they’re not. They’re different.”

So, what we see in the media could be¬†biased against Russia. It¬†just confirms stereotypes we already have. If we’re hating on Russia for being “backwards” what about all the other countries that could be accused of the same thing?


What’s next for Russia?

We contacted the Russian embassy to find out their views on the report into racist activity; but so far haven’t heard back.

Yuri Boychenko (chief of anti-discrimination at the United Nations) believes that to stop racist behaviour the Russian government must understand how bad the problem is. ‚ÄúFirst comes recognition; that authorities here should recognise that there is a problem and I believe that the recognition is coming.”

But for the moment it seems Russia needs some positive press, to allow people to move past the stereotypes.



Is Russia racist and homophobic? Extreme Russia with Reggie Yates can be viewed on the BBC iPlayer.


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When is a Hate Crime not a Hate Crime? When it’s a Terrorist Act…

OK, what’s a Hate Crime?

The organisation Stop Hate UK¬†defines a ‚ÄúHate Crime‚ÄĚ as a crime “motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person‚Äôs identity‚ÄĚ

These aspects can include; Race, Disability, Faith, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. Why can’t people just learn to get along?

So, can a racist attack be a Hate Crime?

The difference between Racism and a Hate Crime. A black woman holds up a sign saying "Racism"

Doesn’t matter if it’s Racism or a Hate Crime. Just don’t.

For an act to be classed as a Hate Crime it has to break criminal law.

So if a physical attack is made because of a person’s skin colour, yes, it is a hate crime because the law has been broken.

However if a racist comment is made, it may be categorized as a Hate Incident.

If the police decide no law has been broken then it’s defined as an incident not a crime, but still motivated by hate.

Even though no laws are broken, you’ll still get in trouble. If reported to police they would still record this as a Non Crime Incident. Sorry, there‚Äôs no escape for being a racist.

What’s the difference between a Hate Crime and a Terrorist Attack?

The difference between a Hate Crime and Terrorism

Quite a big difference, actually.

Terrorism; the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Terrorism causes harm to life, buildings and infrastructure, resulting in fear within communities. If acts of terror specifically target a certain group within recognised hate crime strands (Disability, Faith, Gender Identity, Race or Sexual Orientation) then you could define these as Hate Crimes.

In an interview with Professor Steve Dilks from the University of Missouri-Kansas City states; that Terrorist attacks are often planned attacks to draw attention to a political cause, rather than a spontaneous attack for personal reasons. Terrorist attacks are often part of a larger plan.

Even when Hate Crimes are committed by a group, the aim is usually to send a message to people of a certain race, sexuality or gender, not make a specific political point.

For example;

In 1999 bombings in Soho, London; targeted the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community (LGBT). Because the attacks targeted the LGBT community and ethnic minorities specifically this could be classed as a Hate Crime.

However the bomb set off by the rebel group the IRA (Irish Republican Army) in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre in 1996, was an Act of Terrorism. This is because it wasn’t aimed at a specific group of people; it was designed to scare and injure as many people as possible, and to make a political statement.

The Small Print: the definition of a Hate Crime is based on perception. Any incident or crime could be reported as being hate motivated by the victim or any other person. Some might argue the IRA attack could be interpreted as a Hate Crime against all British people.

So, can a terrorist attack be a hate crime? Potentially, though usually the motivations behind the attack make it one or the other. Basically, neither is very nice.

Why are we talking about this?

Hate Crime

Does the media report some Hate Crimes differently?

Yesterday in South Carolina, America; a white man opened fire on an African-American church, leaving nine people dead. The church’s pastor Senator Clementa Pinckney is among the dead.

At the moment very few details are known. The police have arrested a suspect, Dylann Roof and are investigating the incident as a Hate Crime.

On social media some people are already commenting on how the media is reporting this incident. Many people think that because the shooter was white, the media will report differently than they would if he was of another ethnic group.

What are people saying?

South Carolina, Hate Crime, Reaction on Twitter


What we learned; Haters gonna hate, we hate all crime, but it has to break the law to be classed as a Hate Crime.

Does the media report Hate Crimes differently if a white person is involved? Is doing that actually a Hate Crime itself?

Don’t be hatin’

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Fight, Flight or Film – Are American Police Officers Racist?

Selfie sticks, video blogs, photo-bombs Рis it now our first instinct to pick up a camera in every situation?  

Like it or not, this filming trend is very much the only way we can tell fact from fiction and has even had an effect on a recent murder case in the U.S… and may suggest that some American police officers are racist.



South Carolina, USA. Police Officer Michael Slager shoots a black man called Walter Scott.
Slager claims: Scott had tried to grab his taser weapon, and that he felt threatened.

The Issue: This isn’t the first time a black man has been shot by police in suspicious circumstances. Is America’s police force racist?




A video was then released, showing a whole different story. Scott is seen running away, unarmed, before being shot in the back by Slager.

The video appears to show Slager dropping an item by the dead body ‚Äď and some are saying that the taser was planted near the body to suit the police‚Äôs version of events‚Ķ

RIGHT NOW:  Michael Slager has been charged with the murder of Walter Scott.
A second video has been released, showing Scott being pulled over by Slager, for a broken headlight on his car and then fleeing the scene.




Oakland, California ‚Äď 22 year old Oscar Grant III shot by white Police officer Johannes Mehserle as he lay defenceless on the ground. Many videos show Grant was already restrained by other officers when he was shot. Mehserle was charged with manslaughter, not murder, and was released in 2011.


Ferguson, Missouri ‚Äď Unarmed black teenager Michael Brown shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson. ¬†Wilson was not charged with murder and no video was taken to tell if this action was justified.

New York – Eric Garner died after being put in a chokehold by a New York cop. A video shows him saying ‚ÄúI can‚Äôt breathe‚ÄĚ. The police officer was not charged.

Cleveland, Ohio ‚Äď Tamir Rice, aged only 12, is shot by police responding to reports of a youth waving around a ‚Äúprobably fake‚ÄĚ weapon. The weapon did indeed turn out to be fake. CCTV shows the shots being fired within seconds of the police‚Äôs arrival. The verdict is yet to be revealed.



These events and the many other similar killings of black people by white police officers all add to the ongoing debate about whether America’s justice system and police officers are racist. Cue: public outrage, riots, protest marches and campaigns for justice.

Increase in CCTV cameras and video technology in mobile phones: the public has been able to compare the police‚Äôs version of events to what they see in the videos. And they don’t like what they are seeing.



Michael Brown’s parents have campaigned for a law to make police officers wear body cameras, filming their actions and as a result of Walter Scott’s death many others support this move.

Some body cam studies suggest that they reduce police misconduct.

Due to the fact America is made up of different states, policed by 18,000 separate police agencies its unlikely police cameras will be rolled out throughout the whole country any time soon.


Is America’s police force racist?

Very hard to tell. What we do know is that several people are protesting across various states in America over what they see as racist behaviour.