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Anti-Islam hate crimes jumped over 11-fold in Spain in 2015: Federation

In this file photo, nuns visit the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. (© AFP)

Attacks against Muslims and Islamic institutions surged more than 11-fold in Spain last year, a prominent Islamic organization says, warning that Islamophobia is on the rise in the country.

President of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities, Mounir Benjelloun, said on Tuesday that a total of 534 attacks targeting Muslim community, including online abuse, were registered in the country last year.

Benjelloun noted that the figure marked a sharp increase compared to the 48 anti-Islam incidents recorded in 2014.

“This type of aggression increases whenever there is an act of violence in a European country,” he added.

The remarks come as Spain's Interior Ministry recorded 70 attacks against Muslims in 2015, which was up from 63 in the preceding year.

Benjelloun said that discrepancies between the ministry's figure and actual number result from the fact that victims are mostly reluctant to approach the police and file a complaint, and assaults against Muslim property are simply labeled as vandalism instead of being treated as hate crime.

Spanish authorities say Moroccan immigrants are the most common victims of xenophobia-related crimes and Islamophobia in the country.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, most of the Islamophobia-related crimes took place in Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona and Albacete last year.

Collective Against Islamophobia in France also reported that attacks against mosques and property owned by Muslims have increased sharply.

They have surged since November 13, 2015, when militants killed 130 people in the French capital city of Paris, said the Paris-based organization that monitors Islamophobic acts.

Tell MAMA, a Britain-based NGO that tracks hate crimes against Muslims, also stated that such attacks have increased threefold in the United Kingdom since then. Up to 115 incidents were registered in the week following the attacks alone.

Aiman A. Mazyek, the head of the Central Council of Muslims (ZDM), said anti-Islam attacks are on the rise in Germany as well.

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