DAVID CAMERON has pledged to tackle an emerging number of hate crimes which have shocked communities in Yorkshire as MPs across the region call for unity as the storm of Brexit rumbles on.
The Prime Minister said he would “drive these appalling hate crimes out of our country” by increasing Government investment in security for community buildings at risk, money for neighbourhood groups to tackle incidents and enhancing the reporting of hate crimes.
His announcement comes as 16 Yorkshire MPs from all three major political parties signed a letter penned by Labour’s Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff who wrote “the discord we have seen in recent days poses a real and tangible challenge on our streets.”
Her open letter to people living in Yorkshire appeals for calm after a seven-year-old Muslim girl was told to “go home” in her constituency, West Yorkshire Police announced they were investigating a racially aggravated incident involving a Leeds shopkeeper and a Swedish mother was told to “go back to her own country” in York.
Ms Sherriff also told the House of Commons the BNP has handed out leaflets in Dewsbury accusing the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox of taking “misguided action” by “helping Muslims”.
Her plea for unity is backed by Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham who said the country needed to remember the warning made by Jo Cox’s husband Brendan just last week “that hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”
The rise in people sharing stories of hate crimes with their MPs and on social media comes as the late Mrs Cox was due to present a damning report into anti-Muslim sentiment by organisation Tell Mama in Parliament yesterday.
The late Batley and Spen MP had supported their research that catalogued 364 anti-Muslim “online” crimes or incidents which occurred on social media or other internet-based platforms in 2015.
Shahid Malik, chairman of Tell Mama, said: “The statistics paint a profoundly bleak picture of the explosion of anti-Muslim hate both online and on our streets with visible Muslim women being disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers.
“This exponential growth is testament to the fact that despite great efforts to fight anti-Muslim hatred, as a society we are still failing far too many of our citizens.”
Among those who have signed Ms Sherriff’s letter are former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper MP Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton, Greg Mulholland Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West and Jason McCartney, Tory MP for the Colne Valley.
Ms Sherriff hopes the Government will now listen to her request to set up a cross-party commission into the UK’s current issues with hate crimes.
She said today: “The EU referendum result is a shock to the political system – a moment of great significance in our region as well as across the country and in Europe.
In this turbulent time, we need to act to heal the divisions that have come to the fore in our communities.”