The Anti-Muslim Backlash in the Wake of 11 September 2001


Islamic Human Rights Commission


26 October 2001

The Anti-Muslim Backlash in the Wake of 11 September 2001

The IHRC has produced a preliminary report on anti- Muslim incidents reported to the Commission following the terrorist attacks of 11 September. A total of 206 incidents have been reported and these have been categorized below. It should be noted that 75% of all race crimes go unreported, and on this basis we can assume that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Verbal and written abuse

74 incidents have been reported to the IHRC, the abuse ranging from offensive and obscene to threatening, to both organizations and more alarmingly to individuals. Written threats were received by email, notes through letterboxes, notes left on cars etc. Approximately half of the verbal and written abuse involved death threats.


8 incidents have been reported to the IHRC. This treatment has taken many forms ranging from isolation of school children by their peers and teachers to economic boycotting of Muslim businesses.

Psychological harassment and pressure

17 incidents have been reported to the IHRC where individuals have felt pressurized into acting contrary to their religious beliefs out of fear for their physical safety. These include removal of headscarves and shaving of beards. At least two Muslim schools, fearing reprisals, did not open in the days immediately preceding September 11. Much of the Muslim community feels that they are being shunned by previously friendly non-Muslims. There is also tension in the public areas where visible Muslims are present, compounded in areas by anti-Muslim graffiti.

Serious crimes of violence

88 incidents were reported, which constitutes the largest portion, 43% of the total number of incidents. 52 of these were of physical violence. This ranged from pushing, shoving and being spat at to violent attacks resulting in hospitalization, and in one case paralysis. Attacks on Muslim women include forceful removal of headscarves. Some have an added dimension of humiliation of pouring alcohol over the victim. There have been many incidents of beatings and 3 unconfirmed reports of rape.

36 incidents of criminal damage have been reported to the IHRC, predominantly taking the form of attacks on mosques and Islamic centers. There have also been cases of individuals having their homes and cars vandalized, the majority of these attacks being of a persistent nature. Damage includes graffiti, egging, and petrol bombing. Several mosques had dog excrement put through their letterboxes. In one incident a Muslim graveyard was vandalized and many graves desecrated.

The IHRC recommends that Muslim organizations organize Muslim groups in local areas to assist the community to maintain a high level of security and that the Government, police and other relevant agencies similarly provide support and training to other groups as has been given to the Community Security Trust and other Jewish groups concerned with security issues for their community.

For further information and a copy of the full report, please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888 fax (+44) 8902 0889, e-mail: