Governmental organizations reported an increase in religious hate crimes and incidents in England, a slight increase in Northern Ireland, and a decrease in Scotland.
According to 2013-2014 Home Office official figures on hate crimes in England and Wales, 2,273 of the 44,480 hate crimes recorded were religious in nature, representing 5 percent of the total. The Home Office stated, “Much of the increase in race and religious hate crime is likely to be due to a rise in offenses in the months immediately following the murder of serviceman Lee Rigby in May 2013.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland stated in its annual report, published on July 3, that between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 the number of faith/religion crimes decreased from 14 to 13, of which three were classified as “violence against the person” offenses and 10 were criminal damage offenses. Over the same period, the number of faith/religion incidents (less severe offenses where the public asks for police assistance, but which are not reported to the Home Office as notifiable crimes) increased from 22 to 24.
In 2013-2014, there were 587 charges reported in Scotland with “religious aggravation,” a 15 percent reduction compared to 2012-2013. The number of sectarian incidents at Scottish soccer matches, recorded under legislation which criminalizes religious hatred connected to soccer, dropped from 267 in 2012-2013 to 203 in 2013-2014.
According to Crown Office figures, in 2013-2014 the proportion of charges in Scotland related to Catholicism increased from 57 percent in 2012-2013 to 63 percent in 2013-2014, although the number of offenses fell. Offenses relating to Protestantism remained unchanged at 29 percent.
In its 2014 report the Community Security Trust (CST), a UK organization that monitors anti-Semitism, stated there was a record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents during the year. The CST recorded 1,168 incidents, more than double the 535 incidents in 2013. Part of the increase occurred from January to June, before the conflict in Gaza. In July the CST reported there was “no clear explanation for the sharp rise in recorded incidents in the first half of 2014, which may reflect both a rise in the number of incidents taking place and better reporting of incidents to CST and the police.”
The 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents included 81 violent assaults, an increase of 17 percent from the 69 violent assaults recorded in 2013, and the highest annual total since 2011. One incident was classified as “extreme violence,” involving grievous bodily harm. Prior to the conflict in Gaza, the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults had been on a downward trend. Included in the 1,168 incidents were also 884 cases of abusive behavior, which included verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and single cases of hate mail; 92 direct anti-Semitic threats; 32 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails, and 81 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property.
In September retailer Sports Direct apologized after a security guard reportedly barred two schoolboys wearing the school uniforms of Yavneh College, a Jewish secondary school, from its store in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, telling them “no Jews, no Jews.” Sports Direct removed the worker, who was later fired by the security firm that employed him, and apologized for the guard’s behavior, calling it “deeply offensive and disrespectful.”
In August the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (ScoJeC) reported a large spike in anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland, linking it to the conflict in Gaza. ScoJeC stated that in one week in August, it received 25 reports relating to 12 anti-Semitic incidents, almost as many as in the whole of 2013. Incidents included threatening phone calls, e‑mails, and graffiti on synagogues.
The NGO Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) reported 734 cases of abuse between May 1, 2013, and February 28, 2014, the most recent period for which figures were available. Of these, 599 were incidents of online abuse and 135 were “offline” incidents, including assaults, verbal harassment, circulation of anti-Muslim literature, and desecration of mosques. Of the offline anti-Muslim attacks recorded by Tell MAMA, 23 cases involved assault, 13 involved extreme violence; and the other 99 cases included verbal harassment and attacks on property. Forty percent of all anti-Muslim incidents recorded by Tell MAMA were linked to far-right groups.
Tell MAMA commissioned Teeside University’s Center for Fascist, Anti-fascist, and Post-fascist Studies (CFAPS) to analyze the anti-Muslim incidents recorded by Tell MAMA and to produce an independent report. CFAPS found that underreporting remained a problem in collecting data on hate crimes. According to Tell MAMA’s data, approximately 83 percent of the victims of all anti-Muslim incidents did not report them to the police. Only 3 percent of victims of an offline attack reported them both to Tell MAMA and the police. A majority of the victims reporting offline incidents to Tell MAMA were females who were wearing items of clothing associated with Islam at the time the incidents occurred.
Following a ruling in 2013 that “Scientology comes within the meaning of a religion,” the first ever wedding in a Scientology chapel took place in February.
In June the Muslim Council of Scotland, along with several imams, called on young Scottish Muslims to reject extreme fundamentalism after three men, including one from Aberdeen, were seen in a recruitment video for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant calling on others of their faith to take up arms and join them abroad.
In November the police arrested 10 neo-Nazis who had planned an anti-Semitic demonstration outside the office of Jewish Member of Parliament Luciana Berger. The arrests followed the arrest of a 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer who tweeted a picture of Berger with a yellow star on her forehead and the words “Hitler was right.”
In October the Board of Deputies of British Jews criticized Sir Alan Duncan, a former UK government minister, for a series of anti-Semitic remarks and his reported criticism of the Jewish community for defending Israel.
The leading soccer anti-discrimination organization, Kick It Out, filed a complaint with police after anti-Semitic abuse was posted on social media in response to a goodwill message to its Jewish fans from Liverpool Football Club.
Wigan Football Club manager Malky Mackay remained under investigation by the British Football Association for alleged racism and anti-Semitism committed during his tenure as manager of the Cardiff City Football Club. After Mackay was fired from Cardiff in 2013, a series of his texts was made public including statements such as, “Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.” The owner of the Wigan Football Club, Dave Whelan, who appointed Mackay as manager of Wigan on November 19, was also under investigation for anti-Semitism. Following his appointment of Mackay, Whelan said “Jewish people chase money more than everybody else.” Whelan later said that if anyone had been offended by his comments “to please accept my sincere apology.” He added, “I would never insult a Jewish person. I have got hundreds and hundreds of Jewish friends.” Following Whelan’s comments, one of Wigan’s major sponsors announced it was ending its agreement with the club, describing its relationship with the club as “untenable.”
On July 22-23, vandals threw bricks through the windows of Belfast’s main Orthodox synagogue on two consecutive nights, and the rabbi, David Singer, reported he had received abusive phone calls. In July and August there was repeated vandalism of a plaque marking the birthplace of the late Israeli president Chaim Herzog.