World Bulletin / News Desk
Fears of a prolonged backlash against Muslims have intensified after dozens of Islamophobic incidents were reported in the wake of the murder of the British soldier Lee Rigby in south London.
The Tell Mama hotline for recording Islamophobic crimes and incidents recorded 38 incidents over Wednesday night, including attacks on three mosques, with more reported on Thursday, the Guardian reported.
Strapping his baby into a car seat, Abu Khaled said it was unfortunate that a British soldier was hacked to death a day earlier in London, but it was not the only misfortune on his mind.
"A 75-year-old man was stabbed to death earlier this month on his way back from the mosque in Birmingham. You didn't hear about that, did you?" said the bearded 36-year-old personal trainer, speaking near East London Mosque, one of the capital's oldest and largest.
"Eleven children died in Afghanistan in a U.S. drone attack about the time of the Boston bombings. You didn't hear about that either, did you?" he said.
The overwhelming reaction from Muslim communities to the killing on Wednesday has been one of horror, compounded by fears of a backlash.
"These men have insulted Allah (God) and dishonoured our faith ... There will no doubt be a lot of soul-searching about why these individuals do what they do," Farooq Murad, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a news conference.
Abu Khaled said it was probably Western treatment of Muslim life as "collateral damage" in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq that triggered Wednesday's crazed attack in Woolwich, southeast London.
For east London housewife Muna Hussein, 35, nothing could justify such an act.
"That man was slaughtered like a goat. I was shocked. I couldn't sleep. I was afraid to leave the house in case people attacked me for wearing a headscarf," she said.
Abu Khaled's chief concern now is for his extended family, who live in the east London district of Barking, a bastion of the English Defence League, a far-right group that on Wednesday took to the streets in protest.
Graffiti attacks were reported on mosques in Bolton, where cars parked outside were also vandalised on Wednesday night, and in Cambridge on Thursday.
The incidents compiled by Tell Mama, which monitors news feeds and social media as well as taking calls from the public, included seven incidents of Muslims being abused – including being spat at or threatened in the streets – another five mosques being threatened, and dozens of other online threats.
On the "True British Patriots" Facebook page, there were calls for mosques in Watford in Hertfordshire and Morden, south London, to be burned down.
The East London Mosque's Facebook page is now littered with threats and xenophobic comments, and two other mosques have been attacked. The East London Mosque also houses a Muslim centre.
"The mosque and centre is between a rock and a hard place ... We're trying to fight off two kind of extremist groups - the far right, and we're trying to fight off these extremist groups within our own community," spokesman Salman Farsi said, adding that fear had spread through British Muslim communities.
The centre said state support had been lacking since David Cameron's coalition government came to power in 2010, embarking on a tough austerity drive to fix a big budget deficit.
In recent years party leaders have also toughened their rhetoric on immigration.
"The coalition has just cut connections with the Muslim community. It's almost like they don't want to engage. Money's gone to think-tanks over grass roots and frontline work. And that's one of the reasons you see trouble on the streets," said Shaynul Khan, another mosque spokesman.
"Police always pull me aside at airports and ask me whether I know any terrorists. I say I do, and their eyes go wide," Abu Khaled said.
"I say George Bush and Tony Blair," he said, referring to the former U.S. and British leaders behind the 2003 Iraq war.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2013, 16:12