David Cameron talks tough, Islamophobia to be declared crime

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely condemned for not speaking against the barbaric incident of Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, where a group of men allegedly belonging to the family of a local BJP leader brutally killed a Muslim man just based on rumours that he had eaten and stored beef in his house.

Little over 4000 miles away from India, British Prime Minister David Cameron too has been grappling with the rise in religious intolerance and bigotry. However, far from maintaining a mysterious silence, Cameron, a conservative leader, has decided to hold the bull by its horns.

In a latest development, his government has decided that Islamophobia will now be reported as a separate crime along the lines of anti-Semitic attacks.

It comes as the British Home Office prepares to unveil new figures which are expected to show an increase in the number of hate crimes over the last year, continuing a trend seen in 2013/14.

According to Britain’s Sky News, offences, in that period, involving religious hatred rose by 45% and race hate crime by 4% in the aftermath of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in London in May 2013.

Cameron has revealed that he will provide new funding to improve security at religious buildings, as he hosted the first meeting of a new Community Engagement Forum at Downing Street.

His initiative, which has received wide appreciation, brings together representatives of faiths including Islam from around the country, and is aimed at providing Mr Cameron with a chance to hear directly from those battling extremism in the community.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cameron said: “I want to build a national coalition to challenge and speak out against extremists and the poison they peddle.

“I want British Muslims to know we will back them to stand against those who spread hate and to counter the narrative which says Muslims do not feel British.

“And I want police to take more action against those who persecute others simply because of their religion.”

Cameron’s Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Hate crime has no place in Britain and I am determined to make further progress to ensure we can eradicate this deplorable act.

“Working with police to provide a breakdown in religious-based hate crime data will help forces to build community trust, target their resources and enable the public to hold them to account.”

The Government said no figure has yet been decided for the extra funding to protect places of worship, which will be decided after discussion with members of the new forum.

Modi is scheduled to visit UK next month when he is likely to address a massive gathering of Indian diaspora at the Wembly Stadium in North-West London.

His critics hope that Cameron’s action may enable him to learn a thing or two in dealing with the perpetrators of hate crimes based on religion and restoring communal harmony in India.

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