The Affinity Between Online and Offline Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: Dynamics and Impacts

Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Tunisia in 2015, and in Woolwich, south-east London where British Army soldier Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in 2013, there has seen a significant increase in anti-Muslim attacks. These incidents have occurred offline where mosques have been vandalized, Muslim women have had their hijab (headscarf) or niqab (face veil) pulled off, Muslim men have been attacked, and racist graffiti has been scrawled against Muslim properties. Concurrently, there has been a spike in anti-Muslim hostility online, where Muslims have been targeted by campaigns of cyber bullying, cyber harassment, cyber incitement, and threats of offline violence. Against this background, we examine the nature and impacts of online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime. We draw on our different experiences of conducting research on anti-Muslim hate crime, using two independent research projects in order to consider the affinity between online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime. We argue that, in reality, online/offline boundaries may be more blurred than the terms imply. For victims, it is often difficult to isolate the online threats from the intimidation, violence, and abuse that they suffer offline. Moreover, victims often live in fear because of the possibility of online threats materializing in the “real world.” We conclude that there is a continuity of anti-Muslim hostility in both the virtual and the physical world, especially in the globalized world.

Tags: Hate Speech