Hate Crimes Soar In Wake Of Bombings

By ANWIL DAWAR in London RELIGIOUS hate crimes have soared by almost 600 per cent in London since the July 7 bombings, it was revealed yesterday. Scotland Yard figures show 269 crimes, motivated by religious hatred, have been reported since the suicide attacks. That compared with only 40 in the same 3 1/2 week period last year. The figures include minor assaults, abuse in the street and by email and criminal damage to property, including mosques. In the three days after the bomb attacks, there were 68 such crimes in the capital compared to none in the same period 12 months ago. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said most of the incidents were minor, but had a great “emotional impact” on communities. “It can lead to these communities retreating and not engaging at a time when we want their engagement and support,” he said. Police officers have stepped up patrols and are working with community groups to reassure Muslims. It is not thought the incidents are part of a concerted campaign. Finsbury Park mosque, which has made a break from its associations with such radical clerics as Abu Hamza, has received more than 30 threatening phone calls in a fortnight. The first place of worship to be attacked after the bombings was a Sikh temple in Erith, south east London. Jagtar Singh of the Sikh Federation said: “We have had numerous reports of race-hate crimes targeting Sikh taxi drivers, bus drivers and even tube workers who interact with the public in providing essential services.” Police, in general, have been praised by Muslim groups for their attempts to stop any racist backlash and protect Asian communities following the bombings. Officers are having to deal with the difficult task of defeating terrorism while, at the same time, facing accusations young Muslims are being targeted in stop-and search operations. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears has said Muslims would not be discriminated against by police in the battle against terrorism. She insisted officers’ actions would be “intelligence led”. British police yesterday released another man who was detained in connection with the failed July 21 bomb attacks on London’s transit system. A police spokesman said officers were continuing to question 16 suspects. Of the 37 people detained over the attempt to set off bombs on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, 21 no longer were being held. British authorities say those still in custody include three of the failed bombers. They are trying to extradite the fourth suspected attacker, Hamdi Issac, from Italy, but his lawyer said Italian investigations could delay any extradition to Britain.