Police forces are investigating how far-right groups are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to promote Islamophobia.
As highlighted by Arab News, anti-Islamophobia campaign group TellMAMA and various police branches are investigating a surge in Islamophobic incidents related to coronavirus on social media and in person.
TellMAMA claim that many far-right groups are using social media to blame Muslims for spreading the virus.
Indeed, Tommy Robinson shared a video last week – claiming Muslims are breaking the coronavirus lockdown to attend mosques. West Midlands police have reported this video to be false.
David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said counterterrorism police were looking into reports that far-right groups were trying to use the pandemic to stir up hatred.
“It’s something we are monitoring very closely,” Jamieson said.
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire police also found that images shared on social media of Muslims attending Friday prayers were taken before lockdown.
Online hate has become a defining feature of the far-right. As we reported earlier this week, members of the far-right are now using the social media platform TikTok to spread fake videos of Muslims “breaking ” lockdown.
However, coronavirus-related Islamophobia isn’t just confined to the internet. TellMAMA have also reported incidents that have occurred in person – including someone coughing on a Muslim woman in Croydon.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “People of certain ethnicities and cultural backgrounds have been targeted in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.”
They added that “deplorable” incidents have taken place “in the real world and online” and involved “physical violence in a small number of cases”.
Iman Atta, director of TellMAMA, said: “These extremists are using coronavirus to get their pervasive message across that somehow the Muslim communities are to blame for the spreading of the virus.
“It is mainly repeat offenders – individuals who are already known to hold anti-Muslim views – who are repeatedly seeing this as a way to cause community turmoil and tension. It is at times like this when there are pressures in society that some people manipulate this to fuel hate and division across communities.”
In a time when people should be united, the far-right is still sowing hate. It’s crucial we don’t drop our guard.