In the early hours of the 7th of June, police in south London were alerted to a man carrying a 10-inch knife, out looking for Muslims to attack.
Mickey Sage, 24, of no fixed address, was roaming Camberwell Green with the weapon, approaching people and "asking them if they [were] Muslim", according to a Met Police briefing. When police arrived, just before 2AM, they found a number of "alarmed and distressed" members of the public, and Sage was stopped and searched before a witness pointed out the spot where he had hid his knife.
After he was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, Sage told officers, "It was my knife and I was out to kill a Muslim." En route to custody and while in questioning, according to the police report, Sage continued to make a number of Islamophobic comments, claiming he wanted to "be a martyr and stab an imam in the neck".
Yesterday, at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court, Sage pleaded guilty to one count of threatening a person with a knife, and admitted the incident was religiously aggravated. He was later jailed at Inner London Crown Court for two years and three months.
DC Samuel Cafferty from Southwark CID said: "Sage poses a very clear and present danger to members of the public, particularly the Muslim community, and I'm pleased that he now has plenty of time to consider his actions."
He also remarked that "hate crime like this has no place in any society" – the incident being yet another reminder of the massive rise in reported hate crimes involving religious or racial discrimination since the Brexit vote last year and the political climate we now live in in the UK, fostered by right-wing media and increasingly divisive rhetoric from mainstream political parties.
An Independent investigation showed that, in the 11 months after the EU referendum, hate crimes jumped up by 23 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. Following the London Bridge terror attack in June, there was a fivefold increase in Islamophobic attacks compared to the previous year, according to figures released by the Mayor of London.
What those statistics represent, at a human level, is appalling – the crimes include everything from abuse being shouted in the street, to mosques being attacked, to hijabi women having their head scarves ripped off, to Muslim men being physically attacked and their homes graffitied with racist Katie Hopkins tweets.
If you want to report hate crime, call 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, report it directly at a police station, through the MOPAC Hate Crime app or through community reporting methods such as Tell MAMA, Galop, or the CST.