Hate crimes against Muslims have soared in the UK this year, figures show.
Hundreds of anti-Muslim offences were carried out across the country in 2013, with Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recording 500 Islamophobic crimes.
Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London, in May.
But the figures could be much higher as nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims. Some forces admitted they did not always record the faith of a religious hate-crime victim.
Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Press Association to every police force in England and Wales. Of the 43 forces, 24 provided figures on the number of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents recorded.
Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had dealt with 840 cases since April, with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March. This compared with 582 anti-Muslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013.
Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, said the reaction to the murder of Rigby had caused the number of Islamophobic crimes to jump significantly.
“The far right groups, particularly the EDL [English Defence League], perniciously use the internet and social media to promote vast amounts of online hate,” he said.