ISLAMOPHOBIA was described as “the new racism” at a packed conference designed to combat the issue in Bradford last night.

More than 100 people gathered at the Karmand Community Centre, in Barkerend, to hear a range of speakers at the Islamophobia Causes and Cures event, organised by Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).

It’s CEO, Sufyan Ismail, said the rise in Islamophobia could be attributed to three factors – biased representation in the media, a lack of legislation for crimes based on religious as opposed to racial hatred, and a lack of participation by Muslims themselves.

“Hatred towards Muslims is at an all-time high, with unprecedented levels of attacks,” he said. “Islamophobia is the new racism. In this information age, hatred can be spread at a lightning pace.”

Mr Ismail said that nationally, there had been a 300 per cent increase in Islamophobic attacks since the Paris terrorist attacks earlier this month.

He also said that MEND had found that 43 per cent of anti-Muslim hate crime was not reported to the police, 60 per cent of Muslim organisations had experienced at least one hate crime attack, and that there had been a 69 per cent increase in Childline reports related to race and religious bullying in schools.

“A generation of Muslim children are being bullied,” he said. “Most Muslims have suffered Islamophobia, or know someone who has.

“My message to you is don’t suffer in silence, democracy offers us all an avenue to make a difference.”

Imran Hussain, Labour MP for Bradford East, said the Muslim community was now the “focal point” for far-right groups, but praised Bradford for showing resilience during the recent march by the English Defence League in the city for not giving those involved “the oxygen they wanted.”

“There are still some people in places of authority who do not accept that Islamophobia is on the rise,” he said.

“The media and people in positions of power must be more responsible for the language they use.

“It is not right for people to be using words like the Muslim community secretly condones the actions of ISIL.

“The Muslim community is the first to stand up and be counted against any kind of cowardly terrorist activity.

“Islamophobia is on the rise, it is real, and it is for us to combat.”

Dale Barton, priest-in-charge at two churches in the Barkerend area – St Clement’s and St Augustine’s – contacted the Telegraph & Argus last night to say that while representatives from the churches were invited to the event, they were not invited to speak, and so declined the offer so as not to be a “silent witness to a monologue.”

“We welcome the many comments by British Muslims who clearly share our anger at the pitiless brutality of the murders in Paris,” he said.

He said: “There has been a spike of negative episodes after Paris. We deeply regret this, and our Muslim friends can call on our friendship and support.”

“The challenge now is to accelerate attempts to reach out across communities to multiply opportunities for meeting and common action.”