The UK is presenting itself as an equal opportunities state and a secure location, especially when it comes to an international sports event such as the Olympic Games that are currently taking place in London.
But recent history of racial and religious hatred in Britain could send a negative message worldwide.
Islamophobia has become one of the latest forms of racism in Britain, starting with the Bradford riots in 2001 that involved a high population of Asians. Approximately 68,000 Pakistanis, 12,500 Indians, 5,000 Bangladeshis and 3,000 other Asians were facing a far-right reawakening of the “National Front” that existed since the 20th century. They are currently known as the British National Party (BNP) additional to other anti-Islam groups such as the English Defence League (EDL).
The BNP used the 9/11 attacks to denounce the existence of Islam. Nick Griffin, chairman of the British National Party, has repeatedly condemned Islam publicly throughout the British media.
A few years ago on BBC’s Radio 5 live, Griffin stated that he had read the Qur’an and believed it to be “not a religious book, but a manual for conquering other people’s countries.”
On August 7, the Guardian reported that Griffin’s followers along with other anti-Islam groups have been recently resorting to the websites of BNP extremism, so that they can successfully operate without facing multicultural Olympic spectators.
In July 2009, Griffin spoke on Britain’s Channel 4 News as he had just been elected to European Parliament where he said there was “no place in Europe for Islam”, adding, “Western values, freedom of speech, democracy and rights for women are incompatible with Islam, which is a cancer eating away at our freedoms and our democracy and rights for our women and something needs to be done about it.”
Griffin’s far-right ideas have stimulated Islamophobia in Britain, since he became the leader of the British National Party in 1999. He stood out to be more manipulative to racist groups in the UK when he was elected as a member of the European Parliament in 2009.
A website called “stop the bnp” explains that Griffin’s BNP campaign gained support from Muslim haters in other groups, as it fosters more division and race hate amongst Britain’s society.
Messages of hate against Islam in Britain can often be captured on websites like “Islamophobia Watch”. For instance, a message was displayed on Facebook on June 1, from Liverpool Division English Defence League EDL quoting, “I really don’t understand why everyone is excited over the Olympic Torch touring the country. If I wanted to see a flame that captured the British spirit, I’d set fire to a mosque.”
Islamophobia Watch also exposed an incident describing George Crapper, a supporter of the British National Party, who was rejected as an Olympic security guard earlier this year after he aired racist thoughts on his Facebook page.
Moreover, the 2012 London Olympics happens to clash with the holy Islamic month known as Ramadan. This may be considered by the believers of the religion as an exclusion of Muslims from the Games rather than an overlapping coincidence, as past Olympic events took place on various months.
The unusual clash with Ramadan is likely to raise complaints and bring together many followers of Islam to challenge the timing of the Olympic dates. This could possibly spark a reason for Britain’s mainstream media to interpret the move into stating indirectly that Muslims disrupt peaceful atmospheres in the UK.
The fear of Islam has also spread amongst London commuters since the London Transport bombings on July 7, 2005, due to warnings issued by the British media. Middle Eastern looking individuals are now stereo-typically known in the British capital as suspects of possible terrorist threats.
Britain’s position as a role model to host the peaceful Olympic Games, is widely criticized by many Muslims with regard to the UK’s recent military invasions in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has based anti-air missiles in six different locations across London under the pretext of providing security in case of an attack by terrorist groups.