More needs to be done to tackle online anti-Muslim hatred, says a report.
There is an urgent need to examine the rise of online anti-Muslim hate that has become rampant, says a report by Birmingham City University on online hatred towards Muslims after the murder of Lee Rigby.
The report suggests that a new international and national online cyber hate strategy should be adopted to highlight online anti-Muslim abuse and to find ways in which the police can deal with such incidents.
The report entitled ‘Islamophobia and Twitter: A Typology of Online Hate Against Muslims on Social Media’ looked at 500 tweets from 100 different Twitter users to examine how Muslims were being viewed and targeted on Twitter. Hashtags - #Woolwich, #Muslim and #Islam, were used to look at patterns of online Islamophobia. Users made use of Muslim stereotypes to justify their abuse.
The study highlighted how the term ‘#MuslimTerrorists’ became part of the September 11 trending words across Twitter, where Muslims were being depicted through pictures and videos as extremists and terrorists.
Imran Awan, Senior Lecture in Criminology at Birmingham City University, said, "This study highlights that Islamophobia has now reached the virtual environment as well as the many cases we hear about regarding offline abuse, and online Islamophobia can be considered the new threat."
Awan said that what this study shows is that both the U.K. government and the police need to do much more to tackle the rampant online abuse and harassment Muslims have begun to suffer, in particular post Woolwich which has shown a sharp spike in online anti-Muslim hate.
Awan said the problem was much “wider” than people perceived and told the Anadolu Agency, “Online Islamophobia should be considered a genuine and worrying threat to people who have a right to take part in online debates without fear of threats or abuse.”
U.K. Muslims makes up 4.8 percent of the population and number around 2.7 million.