Prejudice Against Jews and Muslims Up in Britain

Anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic sentiment in the United Kingdom is on the rise, say two studies released in September.

In the first report, a parliamentary commission found that anti-Jewish feeling is spreading, driving a steady increase in attacks on Jews and their property.

"The most worrying discovery of this inquiry is that anti-Jewish sentiment is entering the mainstream, appearing in the everyday conversations of people who consider themselves neither racist nor prejudiced," said Labour MP Denis MacShane, who chaired the commission.

The inquiry cited violence in the Middle East as a reason for the spike, and expressed concern that fewer than one in 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the UK result in prosecution.

Meanwhile, a broad survey of British opinion found that last year's London transit bombings have led people to feel substantially less comfortable with having a Muslim neighbor, boss or in-law. The proportion of people who believe that Muslims have made the security situation in Britain worse rose from 35% before July 7 to 53% after the attacks. Before July 7, 34% of people questioned by TNS/Global said they would feel comfortable with a Muslim neighbor. This figure fell to 21% after the bombings.

These findings follow a surprisingly strong showing by the neofascist British National Party (BNP) in Britain's May elections. The BNP is seen to be gaining traction among whites for its unapologetic hostility towards immigrants.

Alarmed by a rise in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment, the British government has recently tightened the laws on the trafficking of hate on the Internet, including sites not based in the U.K. Under the new laws, British subjects who post information on forums, bulletin boards and Web sites -- including those hosted outside the U.K. -- can now be prosecuted for "incitement to racial hatred, incitement to violence and glorification of terrorism in the United Kingdom."

This has led the BNP to warn its supporters against posting extremist views online.

"Our members are advised of these important changes in the law and that the luxury of expressing individual opinions on various public and visible forums must be balanced by their responsibility and loyalty towards the greater good of the party," said an intra-party memo.