Source: Faith & Belief Forum
A new report by the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, calls on faith and community organisations to work together to address religious hate crime in their local areas. It follows the finding that hate crimes towards faith groups and minorities are on the rise in London. The report recommends that responses to the crimes should be led by faiths working together, despite evidence that fear and division between faith groups is growing as a result of the incidents.
The report, 'Hate Crime, Faith and Belonging', draws on insights from a roundtable event at Birkbeck which brought together 23 local organisations, academics and policy experts to explore the issues and share good practice. The report highlights that the most common types of religious hate crime in the UK are anti-Jewish (Antisemitic) and anti-Muslim (Islamophobic). The increase of reported hate crimes, and the massive increase in how these incidents are shared and publicised online, have the potential to divide communities into isolated groups who fear and oppose each other.
Hate crimes affect not only those directly targeted, but they also send a message of exclusion to people who belong to the same community as the victim, and to those who witness the crime directly or online. If these hateful messages are not addressed, they can cause a cycle of division and violence in local communities. The report recommends that responses should include 1) prosecuting offenders to show that hate crime is unacceptable, and 2) promoting messages of belonging in response to the crime's exclusionary messages.
Responses to hate crime should be collaborative, bringing together faith groups, faith forums, community organisations and local government. The report finds that responses which bring together different affected groups have a double benefit: they enable better access to services, and they communicate that one group is not struggling alone. The profile of hate crime is different in each borough and often in each neighbourhood; therefore, effective responses should be sensitive to and led by local communities.
The report authors say: "Because every Londoner is affected by hate crimes to varying degrees, we all have a part to play in responding. Our responses to hate crime demonstrate who belongs and what values we share as Londoners. Any positive response to hate crime, however small, promotes the message on the cover of this report - 'we are better than this'."
The full report can be downloaded from the Faith & Belief Forum's website. The aim is that it will serve as a guide for those looking to remove barriers to belonging both in London and the rest of the country.
Download the report: https://faithbeliefforum.org/report