Hate crimes against British mosques doubled in the period between March and June of last year and the same time period this year. This may be related to several high-profile, ISIS-claimed terrorist attacks.
Hate crimes at or near mosques have ranged to vandalism of vehicles to bomb threats to violent assaults on worshippers. The greatest increase in hate crimes was seen in Greater Manchester and the second highest increase was in London.
A spokesperson for the home office responded, “all forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it.”
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell Mama, an anti-hate crime organisation that focuses on supporting the Muslim community, said: “Political events have supercharged the sense of confidence in sections of our population which probably held those [extremist] views and didn’t voice them before, but felt confident in voicing them over the last few years. We have seen a rise in anti-Muslim extremism and far-right activity online, with a very slow, dinosaur approach from social media companies to take off hate, and an utter denial for three or four years that this was their responsibility.”
Mughal also noted that Muslim terrorism is correlated with hate crimes against Muslims. He argues it is critical to reduce these terrorist attacks.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the crimes should be “met with the full force of the law.” Rudd also announced a new online hate crime reporting tool which hopefully will encourage more victims to report hate crimes.
The data comes form the British police and was obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the British Press Association.
Around 20 UK mosques opened their doors to the public on Sunday in a move to ease tensions between Muslims. The Muslim Council of Britain said that the mosques would give a warm welcome to visitors and answer any queries regarding Islam that the people in the community might like answered.
However, the event was surrounded with conspiracy after Cathy Newman claimed in her tweet that she was ushered out Streatham mosque in North London, which caused outrage in the social media questioning the event held by the Muslim Council of Britain. Cathy Newman later apologised after CCTV images contradict the Channel 4 presenter’s claims that she was “ushered out of the mosque” during Open Day held by UK mosques. The CCTV images obtained by the Huffington post showed that Miss Newman arriving at the mosque and being directed by a male congregant, but leaving alone through the courtyard. The mosque had previously denied Miss Newman’s claims, saying that her comments provoked death threats and voice mails which were reported to the police.
Cathy Newman apologised for the “misunderstanding”. She said “as the primary purpose of Visit My Mosque day was to increase understanding of Islam, I was horrified to hear the mosque I visited in error has had death threats. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding there has been. I would be happy to pay a private visit to South London Islamic Centre once again.” she said in a statement. Although she made the claims on that day, she later added that she was received warmly by the people in Hyderi mosque.
An American Islamic group has been advising British mosques on security measures, including the installation of safe rooms and panic alarms, warning that they are at greater risk than in any other western country. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has discussed its revamped security regulations with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in light of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich, south-east London, which it said had even provoked attacks in the United States.
The security improvements encouraged by CAIR, America’s largest Muslim advocacy group, encourage the building of transparent fences around mosques, wire screens on windows, designated security officials, three-inch-thick doors, panic alarms and safe rooms.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the conflict resolution charity Faith Matters, said too many mosques remained vulnerable to attack in the aftermath of Woolwich. Mughal said that, of the UK’s 1,500 mosques, 1,300 urgently needed to improve security. He added: “There are a significant number of mosques that don’t have CCTV, that don’t do an audit of their lighting around their building. Many of these mosques you can walk into without anybody asking anything. The vast amount of mosques really needs to reconsider their safety measures. I would classify them as vulnerable, given the changing climate since 7/7. But Woolwich is a huge turning point and if the mosques don’t realise that, they really need to wake up to it.”
Hooper said his group had recently contacted the FBI after a mosque in Georgia was vandalised with apparent reference to the murder of Rigby. The sign for the Islamic Centre of North Fulton was spray-painted with the phrase “London Justice”.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais can normally be seen leading prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, but this week he’s been charming the crowds of Banbury, Blackburn and Birmingham, where he attended a conference organised by the Ahlul Hadeeth Society called Unity of God: A Message Of Peace And Security. This evening, he will speak at the East London Mosque.
Rewind some years and he was describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs and worshippers of false gods”, Christians as “cross-worshippers” and Hindus as “idol worshippers”. His views were highlighted in a BBC Panorama programme on the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Following the broadcast, the MCB sent letters of complaint to the corporation about the accuracy and editing of the show, queries that were dealt with at length by Panorama editor Mike Robinson.
Between the earlier media reports and the programme featuring the sheikh’s comments, al-Sudais led a sermon at the East London Mosque that was attended by the Racial Equality Minister Fiona McTaggart; the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks sent a message of support. One would have thought that these two figures given their respective roles, would have been aware of who the sheikh was and what his opinions were.
A campaign, called Ramazan Festival, has been launched here and in a couple of other European countries to what the organisers say create harmony amongst different cultures and religions by inviting people of all faiths to take part in celebrations of the holy month of Ramazan. The campaign urges Muslims to use the 30-day holy period to reach out to other communities who are either not aware of the rich Islamic culture or have negative perceptions about the Muslims and Islam. It is asking the over 1,600 UK mosques and cultural and religious organisations to make it a point to invite people from other faiths and backgrounds to observe from close quarters the cultural strength of Islam.
Director of the festival Syed Mohsin Abbas said: “Ramazan is the perfect vehicle to initiate positive dialogue between Muslims and the mainstream. And the Iftar is the perfect time to celebrate the positive contribution, richness and diversity of British Muslims.” Ramazan Festival is the first transnational cultural event of its kind and also it is taking place for the first time in Britain. Mr Abbas said that Muslims would ‘feed a friend’ during the campaign to help the British homeless. Many restaurants owned by Muslims have been lobbied to run a discounted Iftar menu. Hundreds of arts and cultural events, including Iftar parties and Eid fairs and celebrations, are being planned across Europe.
The director hopes the festival will be successful in achieving its desired objectives in the long run. “Our intention is to arrange 40 days of arts and cultural events in 2008 which will reflect the diversity of British Muslim cultural expression that exists in the UK. We are here to stay and we will take the uniqueness of this festival to Muslim communities all over the world.” M. Ziauddin reports.
Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)
Extremist literature that encourages hatred of gays, Christians and Jews can be easily found at many of Britain’s mosques, according to a new survey. Toby Helm repots.
A pilot program funded by the British gov’t is introducing citizenship classes at mosques in the town of Bradford. CAIRO – A pilot program funded by the British government is introducing citizenship classes at mosques in the racially and religiously tense town of Bradford to educate Muslim teens about basic duties and shield them against extremism, despite objections from some to singling out Muslims. “The impact this teaching could have is quite considerable,” Jane Houghton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, told The New York Times on Tuesday, August 21.