Police Reveal Attacks On British Muslims

By James Blitz and Jimmy Burns in London Senior police officers on Sunday revealed that they had recorded several incidents of “hate crime” following the London bombings – including one that had led to “serious injury”. As one of Britain’s leading Islamic figures insisted the London bomb attacks had been “contrary to Islam”, the police acknowledged that the terrorism had triggered reprisals against Muslims in recent days. “We have had some incidents of hate crime – racially and religiously motivated offences – and we take those kinds of offences very seriously,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said in London. “But thankfully none of these has been the cause of major damage, although there was a serious injury reported in one of those incidents.” Senior government figures have been concerned about the possibility of reprisals against ethnic minority groups because of the London bomb attacks. However, leading religious figures from across the faiths on Sunday met in London to stress their common values and to condemn the attacks. Sheikh Zaki Badawi, head of the Council of Mosques and Imams, said the attacks were “totally contrary to Islam”, adding: “Anyone claiming to commit a crime in the name of religion does not necessarily justify his position in the name of that religion.” Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said the fact that Britons were worried about reprisals after the bombings was a sign of the “normality” of inter-faith relations in the country. Some senior government officials expressed concern about the possible impact on community relations after Sir John Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, warned that the London bombers were “almost certainly” British and that there were many more born and bred in the UK willing to attack. Sir John said last Thursday’s bombers were “totally aware of British life and values” and although international terrorists might have provided the expertise, it was “wishful thinking” to suspect the perpetrators came from abroad. In an article entitled “Young, clever . . . and British” written in the News of the World newspaper on Sunday, he said: “I’m afraid there’s a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don’t have to be drafted in from abroad.” Such a warning, while privately shared by some security officials, is condemned by others as politically dangerous when uttered in these terms and publicly. “The British police and government are very worried about community tensions getting out of control. These kind of comments risk being counter-productive,” said one European police insider. Senior police officers and security chiefs believe the support of British Muslims could be critical in finding those responsible for last Thursday’s bombings. They believe that information provided from within the Muslim community could provide intelligence on the bombers’ movements since the explosions. But police are also appealing for information on individuals who might have been acting suspiciously in recent weeks, including those arriving from abroad. While MI5, the security service, is thought to have boosted its recruitment of individuals with specialist cultural and language skills since the 9/11 attacks on the US, the current search for the bombers – thought to be supporters of the aims of al-Qaeda – is likely to be aided if they are not provided with safe havens.