The Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) Lord Singh of Wimbledon has asked the government for parity in tackling hate crimes against all communities, not just Muslims.
A Muslim Peer, Baroness Afshar tabled a question leading to a debate last week:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they have put in place to counter the impact of Islamophobia and stigmatisation on young Muslims.”
During the debate Lord Singh asked the government:
“My Lords, is the Minister aware that ever since 9/11 there has been a huge increase in the number of attacks on Sikhs and Sikh places of worship in cases of mistaken identity? The most recent case was a machete attack on a young Sikh dentist in south Wales, which was described on “Newsnight” as Islamophobia. Does the Minister agree that hate crime is hate crime against any community, and that it should be tackled even-handedly, irrespective of the size of the community?”
Baroness Williams of Trafford, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Communities and Local Government responded in agreement:
“The noble Lord is absolutely right—hate crime is hate crime.”
The backlash to Islamic extremism is particularly heightened following terror attacks. The Sikh community is an example where bigots target the ‘Muslim looking other’ in the wake of terrorist atrocities like 9/11 and 7/7. In his book, My Political Race former government Minister Parmjit Dhanda revealed how a pig’s head was thrown in his drive following his 2010 election defeat.
Racial prejudices have also motivated hate crimes against minorities. Last Week Mold Crown Court found Zack Davies a ‘white supremacist’ guilty of trying to behead a Sikh dentist in a machete attack. Davies was reported to have taken inspiration from Jihadi John, and to have chosen his victim because of his race not religion.
The government has pledged it will support the recording of anti-Muslim incidents as well as anti-Semitic, across all UK police forces. There are currently no plans in place for hate crime victims from other minority faiths.
The NSO has written to the government in light of the current strategy, which we believe urgently requires a more inclusive approach