British Muslims fear they could become “sitting targets” for far-right violence following a spate of attacks on mosques and a spike in other reported hate incidents in the week since the murder of a British soldier on a London street. The most serious attack occurred in the east coast town of Grimsby on Sunday night when three petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque as a meeting was taking place inside. Other attacks were reported on mosques in the southern towns of Braintree and Gillingham within hours of last Wednesday’s killing. Elsewhere, a petrol bomb was thrown at a mosque in Milton Keynes, bacon was left on the steps of a mosque in the Welsh capital Cardiff, and there were reports of vandalism at Islamic centres elsewhere.
Meanwhile, about 1,000 supporters of the far-right English Defence League rallied in central London on Monday chanting “Muslim killers off our streets” and heard Tommy Robinson, the EDL’s leader, call for further demonstrations. “They’ve had their Arab Spring. This is time for the English Spring,” said Robinson, whose group also saw its number of Facebook followers surge from 20,000 to more than 100,000.
Spike in Islamophobia
Tell MAMA (Monitoring Anti-Muslim Attacks), a helpline set up to monitor instances of Islamophobia, said it had recorded 193 incidents since last Wednesday, compared to a usual tally of about four cases a day. “There is a background Islamophobia that is always rumbling,” Fiyaz Mughal, a director of the Faith Matters interfaith group that runs Tell MAMA, told Al Jazeera. “But if we take the latest figures, we are looking at about 40 cases a day and a ten-fold jump all of a sudden.”
Others raised frustrations about the mainstream media’s coverage of the Woolwich attack, including the labelling of the perpetrators as “Islamic terrorists”. Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, apologised later that day after quoting a source who described the attackers as being “of Muslim appearance”. “We are the only community, in the UK certainly, which whenever an act of terrorism has taken place, the whole community is put in the dock for the criminal activities of individuals,” said Nagdi. “Acts of terrorism affect us all but it does seems odd that when it is a Muslim you always expect Muslims to condemn it. We do condemn it but there is a history of bias in the reporting mechanism that it is expected.”
Read the full article here.