The Argus reports on a Muslim law graduate and member of Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission, Mageed Gharib, who says he has witnessed or personally experienced hate crime on a daily basis in Brighton.
Gharib, 22, says he has been regularly confronted with prejudice dating back to his time at school and claimed that a relative was just recently called a ‘dirty Arab’ while parking his car.
He said: “A few months ago I was with a family member and we took the parking space that the other person wanted near Churchill Square and they got called a ‘dirty Arab’.”
Mr Gharib, a member of the police and crime commissioner’s Sussex Youth Commission, also revealed a number of other incidents where he or his friends have been antagonised by people in the local area. He said: “I remember about a year ago during Eid one of my friends was wearing his Islamic clothing, and the looks he was getting. We are laughing about it, we are fine, but the point is there are going to be people who are not fine with it at all.”
Gharib said the discrimination and prejudice experienced was a direct result of international events and the war on terrorism. He related the slurs he faced when at school saying, “The things I used to get called in school. Anything from Bin Laden… I have been called a ‘Paki’.”
As part of his role as a member of the Youth Commission for Sussex Police, Gharib is working to encourage more people to report hate crime to the police so that is can be confronted and eliminated. He recently put this in practice by leading a youth commission workshop about hate crime against people with disabilities last month. About twenty students took part and they gave suggestions on how the issue of hate crime in Brighton could be tackled. He said: “Being able to hold a workshop to address some of the issues around lack of reporting and victim support was not only of benefit to the students but also to the minority communities from which I am a part.”
Gharib’s recounting of frequent instances of anti-Muslim prejudice comes at a time when there has been a reported 15% increase in Islamophobic hate crime over the lastcouple of years in a number of cities in the UK. This is especially alarming since Islamophobic hate crimes are not universally captured as a category of crime and under-reporting continues to present a problem meaning any data is far from an accurate reflection on the scale of the problem. Consequently, the real number of Islamophobic hate crimes and their impact on Muslim communities in the UK is believed to be significantly under-represented.
The Home Secretary spoke in March this year of the requirement to be introduced mandating all police forces to record Islamophobia as a separate category of crime as is currently the case with anti-Semitism but this pledge was not included in the Conservative manifesto for the election nor has it appeared in the legislative programme outlined in the Queens’ speech. It remains to be seen whether the Conservatives fulfil their commitment to tackle Islamophobia by beginning, at the very least, to quantify it clearly.