DEMANDS are being made for a broad anti-racism movement in Oxford as hate crime continues to rise across the region.

A recent brutal and racist attack on an Asian man in a city park prompted the Oxford Labour Muslim Network to call for condemnation from Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

The group has also called on the Oxford and District Labour Party to immediately begin work on an anti-racism initiative in the city.

In a statement the group said: “Hate crimes do not take place in a vacuum, bigotry flourishes when our politicians, elected officials and public figures create an environment where bigotry and hate is normalised.”

Hate crime – offences motivated by racism, homophobia or other prejudices – has been steadily rising in the region for years.

From 2016/17 to 2017/18, racist incidents rose by 25 per cent.

The total number of hate crimes in the Thames Valley rose 1,236 in 2014/14 to 1,775 in 2016/17.

Last year, it was revealed that reports of racist and homophobic incidents increased in Oxford by more than 40 per cent in a year, with an average of 23 reported each month between April 2016 and 2017.

Councillor Tom Hayes said Oxford City Council will 'always take incidents of hate crime extremely seriously' and Oxfordshire County Council has also condemned the recent attack.

On Saturday, July 14, a 35-year-old Asian man was walking through Bury Knowle Park in Headington at about 7pm when he was confronted by a white man and woman pushing a buggy.

The man racially abused the victim before swinging three punches into his head, knocking him to the ground.

The victim was left with a broken nose and possible fractured cheek bone and was taken to hospital.

Sergeant Christopher Ball described it as ‘an unprovoked assault.'

The Muslim network said the attack was ‘enabled’ by the current social context.

Its statement explained: “Earlier this month US president Donald Trump was given the red carpet treatment in Blenheim Palace. He was met with a loud and peaceful protest with thousands of people gathering to reject the politics of hate, division and bigotry from Trump and his administration.

“Closer to home, we had the ‘hostile environment’ in the UK orchestrated by Theresa May as Home Secretary and Prime Minister."… We call on Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to condemn this attack and for Oxford and District Labour Party to urgently start the work needed to build a broad anti-racism movement in our city.”

Oxfordshire County Council said in a statement that it ‘condemned all violence, whatever the motivation’, and was ‘committed to encouraging good relations between people of all races and religion, as our recently updated equality policy states’.

Mr Hayes added: “Oxford City Council takes pride in Oxford’s diversity and community cohesion, and condemns all acts of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

"Nobody should be attacked for who they are, and we will always be the strongest ally to Oxford’s diverse communities."

"The Council is committed to working with all our partners to challenge prejudice and intimidation, and will always take incidents of hate crime extremely seriously."