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LONDON: The number of recorded hate crimes in England and Wales has more than doubled in the past five years, official data shows, with a substantial rise in offenses directed at Muslims.

Religiously-motivated hate crime has risen by 40% in just the past two years with more than half (52%) being directed at Muslims in the community, according to the Home Office.

The findings come after a separate report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that 70% of Muslims surveyed nationally say they have experienced religion-based prejudice in their daily lives.

The Home Office said the increase in hate crime was largely driven by improvements in the way police record hate crime. But it also noted “spikes following the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017.”

The Labour Party MP David Lammy, who is part of the pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign, blamed the rise in hate crime on the rhetoric of Brexiters. “The extent to which hate crimes have risen in recent years is shameful. It comes from the very top. Divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from politicians and leaders trickles down into abuse and violence on our streets,” he said.

“It is no surprise that Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women who wear veils rose in the days following Boris Johnson’s ‘letterbox’ insult. Similarly, it is no coincidence that the type of anti-immigrant language used by some mainstream politicians has corresponded with spikes in hate crimes,” added Mr. Lammy.

Announcing the review, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behavior out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

The Muslim Council of Britain repeated calls for meaningful and proactive Government action as new figures reveal a rise in Islamophobic hate crime.

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “For years, Muslim communities have called for meaningful Government action against the rise in Islamophobia, yet this has been met by a tepid response at best.”

Mr Khan continued: “No longer can the Government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked. There has been little action against bullying of Muslim children, minimal funding for security for Muslim institutions (and only during specific periods) and no support to Muslim communities to encourage reporting of hate crime. And the list of inaction continues.”

Mr Khan said: “We welcome the Ministerial Roundtables on antisemitism and Islamophobia to be chaired in late 2018 to listen and respond to concerns from within communities, but unlike in the past two years, we hope that warm words will be followed by strong action.”

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