Muslims are the most targeted religious group in England and Wales

Most victims of religious hate crimes in England and Wales are Muslims, according to latest government figures.

The Home Office data also show that over 100,000 racist hate crimes were recorded for the first time last year.

In the year ending March 2022, 42% religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims (3,459 offences) — a concerning figure given the prevalence of Islamophobia in society and the experiences faced by visibly Muslim women. The next most targeted group were Jewish people with 23% (1,919 offences) recorded.

In total, there were 155,841 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 26% from last year.

As in previous years, most hate crimes were racially motivated, accounting for over two-thirds of all offences (70%; 109,843 offences).

Racially motivated hate crimes increased by 19% on the previous year, while offences against all minority groups rose by more than a quarter, the largest annual rise since 2017.

“It is uncertain the extent to which the increases seen this year continue the pattern of improvements in police recording or represent a real increase in hate crime,” the Home Office report said.

“The rise seen in the latest year may also have been affected by the lower levels of crime recorded in year ending March 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic restrictions,” it added.

The figures are in line with other findings that show similar trends.

A survey earlier in the year found that nearly half of mosques and Islamic institutions in the UK experienced religiously motivated attacks in the last three years, a new study reveals.

The survey, conducted by MEND in collaboration with Muslim Census, found the most common form of attack is vandalism, followed by theft, though 17% of mosques faced physical abuse directed at staff or worshippers.

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