Action needed to tackle ‘rampant’ Islamophobia on social media, says expert

Action needed to tackle 'rampant' Islamophobia on social media, says expert
Mr Awan reports that Islamophobia is rife in the virtual environment (Picture: Getty Images)

The government and police must do more to reduce anti-Islamic abuse suffered by Muslims on social media, a top criminologist has said.

Imran Awan, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the Birmingham City University, revealed that the phrases ‘Muslim paedos’, ‘Muslim terrorists’, and ‘Muslim scum’ were the three most Islamophobic terms used to attack Twitter users.

Publishing his report into ‘A Typology of Online Hate against Muslims on Social Media’, Mr Awan found that anti-Islamic sentiment had risen sharply in the virtual environment since the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, and was often targeted at Muslims engaging in legitimate debate online.

The hashtags #Woolwich, #Muslim and #Islam were used to explore trends in online Islamophobia, with the results showing that 72% of tweets were posted by males and 75% of all tweets expressed strong anti-Islamic feeling, mostly making use of negative Muslim stereotypes.

File photo dated 27/12/10 of the Twitter logo of as the social networking website has apologised after it sent a string of fake tweets from the accounts of real users to champion one of its products. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday July 25, 2013. See PA story TECHNOLOGY Twitter. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Anti-Islamic abuse peaked after the murder of Lee Rigby (Picture: PA)

‘This study highlights how Islamophobia is well and truly present, and often rife, in the virtual environment, in addition to the many cases we hear about featuring offline abuse,’ said Mr Awan.

‘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.’

‘This study shows that both government and the police need to do much more to tackle the rampant online abuse and harassment Muslims are suffering,’ said Mr Awan.

‘They are engaging in social media in the same way as anyone else.’

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