THE Muslim community in Colchester say they feel reassured by police despite the number of hate crimes against UK mosques having more than doubled.

Police force figures ranks Essex in tenth place for the largest increase of recorded hate crimes.

They have gone up from zero to three in the past year.

Forty-two police forces responded to a Freedom of Information request from the Press Association which shows the figure shot up from 47, between March and June 2016, to 110 for the same period this year.

Habib Ahmad, who has been Imam at Colchester Islamic Cultural Association for six months, said: “As a group we have really good communication with the police and general community.

“There will always be those people who feel isolated and scared, but after incidents take place we always receive calls from the police to reassure us.

“That message then gets broadcast to the Muslim community in Essex.

“There is a push to increase the reporting of hate crime by making campaigns materials available in different languages, for example, so the police will say it’s an increase in the reporting rather than actual crime.”


Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre


Footage of an arson attack at Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre was released in January when a pair set fire to the plastic corrugated roof on the building’s lean to.

The fire was extinguished by a taxi driver who drove past the centre in the early hours.

Essex Police was unable to provide details of the other two reported hate crimes and advised the Gazette submit a Freedom of Information request.

In the region of 4,000 Muslim people are estimated to live in Colchester.

To encourage open dialogue within the community, the town’s Islamic centre is hosting an open day from October 28 to 29 at Firstsite.

It was an event first initiated by the Muslim Council of Britain involving 150 mosques, Mr Ahmad explains, and is a chance for discussion, for people to have their hands decorated with henna, try on a hijab, and learn about the religion.

There will be exhibitions on topical subjects such as women’s status in Islam, Islam and modern science, and the Muslim contribution to Britain.

He added: “People are always welcome to visit the mosque and ask questions, however people might not go out their way to do that.

“For people who have misconceptions about Islam, or don’t have much interaction with Muslim people, an event like this will humanise Islam for them.”

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