[Photo: 16 mosques and Islamic centers, a shop and a school have been attacked across the UK]
By Elham Asaad Buaras, Ahmed J Versi and Sukaina Ladak
16 mosques and Islamic centers, a shop and a school have been attacked across the UK. Many Muslim women were attacked too. The latest attack on a mosque was on June 18 when Masjid-e-Noor in Gloucester was set on fire.
Britain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, admitted that “these are difficult times for London’s communities” following news that recorded attacks against Muslims in the capital have increased by 700% in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
Over 200 Islamophobic incidents have been reported since the murder of Rigby in London on May 22 and Commander Simon Letchford said that Islamophobic incidents in London have jumped from one a day to eight and that the true total is likely to be significantly higher.
While most incidents have been verbal abuse, there have also been incidents of criminal damage, assaults and two suspected arson attacks on a school in Bromley and an Islamic centre in Barnet – both mocked on social media by the official English Defence League (EDL), Combined Ex-Forces and the British National Party (BNP) Twitter feed.
“Remember that at least some Islamic building blazes will be insurance jobs,” tweeted BNP leader, Nick Griffin.
The vast majority of incidents have involved “low-level” Islamophobic tweets and facebook entries gloating about or inciting attacks on Muslims and Muslim properties.
One of the more vicious twitter comments came from the Northern Premier League footballer Shaun Tuck who called for Muslim children to be beheaded and for “all mosque’s to be bombed or gassed out!!!… Or stormed by 50 lads machetes, swords the lot…I’d be going through there door mate an taking there kids head off an killing whoever was in site!!”
Tuck was charged with an offence under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 on June 17 and is to appear at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on July 3, according to spokesman for Merseyside Police.
Many Muslim women have been attacked verbally and physically but are reluctant to come forward. Some agreed to talk to The Muslim News on the condition of anonymity.
Jasmine Muhammad, 23, student from East London, told The Muslim News she was called “f#@king Muslim scum” before having her hijab nudged as she disembarked from a train in Baker Street.
“I didn’t have the time to turn around see who did it because the doors closed and the carriage was packed. I didn’t want to hassle the police either,” said the business student.
In Harrow, north-West London, hijab wearing teen said a man in a car screamed “f#@king c@nt” at her and her mother as he drove onto a small side road near Harrow on the Hill. The 18- year-old told The Muslim News the incident happened at 3pm on June 9.
On May 23, on London Underground Central Line, 19 year-old hijab wearer student was called a “Paki” day after Woolwich murder, at around 6 pm. The offender was a grown man, the victim told The Muslim News.
On May 26 in Leytonstone, east London, the niqab of a student was pulled off on the street by two white men. She did not confront them or report the incident, she said to The Muslim News.
In the London Borough of Hillingdon a 19 year-old woman, told The Muslim News, at around 4pm on May 30 she was outside Hillingdon hospital when she was sworn at by a young white man as he spat on the floor in front of her and said, “bastards”.
In Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, a 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage, assault and harassment after allegedly going on a rampage through Aylesbury’s Alfred Rose Park and attacking an elderly woman and smashing the doors and windows of a house.
The man racially abused passers-by in the Park on June 2. He also broke windows and doors of a house belonging to an Asian family and racially abused a 78-year-old Asian Muslim woman before pushing her over.
The man was released on bail until July 23.
And in another twist plot, vandals targeted the Sussex home of a mother of a Muslim soldier, Njaimeh Jawara. Vandals wrote the words “dead Muslim” in permanent on her door while she was away from her East Grinstead home.
Unbeknown to the vandal, Jawara had a son who has served for 15 years in the army, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am a true Muslim so I don’t feel scared and I do not feel bad for what has happened to me. The person who did this is a coward; they should say something to my face,” she said.
In Leicester police are appealing for witnesses after two cyclists attempted to pull a woman’s niqab at around 6.50pm on May 26.
The woman had walked along Holmfield Road before turning right onto London Road.
Whilst waiting at the nearby crossing, two cyclists, described as white men in their early twenties, came towards her and one of them attempted to pull at her niqab. She managed to push him away.
Metropolitan Police claimed they had increased police presence around “potentially vulnerable locations” across London to “provide reassurance, following the escalation of arson attacks.”
However, police protection has not translated on the ground as attacks on mosques and Islamic centres have continued not only in London but across the country too. The Muslim News has to date documented, since Woolwich, 15 mosques and Islamic centre attacks in London (3), Buckinghamshire (1), Northern Ireland (1), Lancashire (2), Lincolnshire (1), Dorset (2), Essex (1), Gloucestershire (1), Kent (1), Leeds (1), Wales (2), and even as far afield as Georgia, US.
As reported in the last issue of The Muslim News the first serious attempted arson attack occurred in Milton Keynes, (Bucks) where a lighted bottle of inflammable liquid was thrown onto the roof of Zainabia Islamic Centre in Granby a day after Rigby’s murder. Then, attacks also took place against mosques in Kent, Essex, and Lancashire. Since then more have been attacked.
On June 18, a man was seen on CCTV pouring petrol around the Masjid-e-Noor mosque door and then setting a rag on fire and using it to ignite the fuel in Gloucester. No one was hurt.
Earlier, on June 5, a Somali cultural and Islamic centre was burned to the ground in Muswell Hill, north London, and the letters “EDL”, the initials of the English Defence League – were found scrawled on the outside.
The EDL, which is notorious for anti-Muslim rhetoric, has blamed Muslims and their religion for Rigby’s death. The far-right group has staged several protests against Muslims and mosques in the wake of the attack, depsite attempts from Rigby’s family to distant Rigby’s name from group.
The Al-Rahma Islamic Centre, which was established in 2000, hosted Arabic classes for members of the mainly Somali community during the week.
Ahmed Muhammad Ali, a youth worker at the Centre, told The Muslim News that the community was “very shocked” and many “were now afraid”. They were surprised at what had happened as Ali said the community relations “were good” in the area.
In Cathay, Cardiff, Wales, Shah Jalal Mosque & Islamic Centre, bacon and other pork products were left outside the mosque at 10.30 pm on May 22. No one has been arrested.
A former serviceman was imprisoned on June 20 for attempting to set fire to a mosque in Rhyl, Denbighshire, Wales in revenge of Woolwich murder. John Parkin first went to a night club and told the staff, “I just need a bottle of strong alcohol to burn down the mosque.” They refused and informed the police. He then went and bought alcohol from a shop and stuffed tissue into it and attempted to light it at the Islamic Cultural Centre. He was unsuccessful and was arrested. The judge has banned him from any mosque in Wales.
Bournemouth Islamic Centre and Central Mosque on Stephen’s Road, Dorset, had its wall painted with graffiti daubed in red “Muslim Scum” on May 22. The previous week, a man tried to force his way into the mosque, but was confronted by the Imam. He ran away. Imam Majid Yasin told The Muslim News, “We are very upset about what has happened.”
Four windows were smashed at Dorset Islamic Cultural Centre, Ashley Road, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset, at 3.50 pm on May 24. Two people charged with racially aggravated criminal damage, one of them also charged with assault.
On May 23, a milk bottle filled with paint was thrown at the Belfast Islamic Centre, Wellington Park, Northern Ireland at 10pm.
Three petrol bombs were thrown over the gate of Grimsby Mosque and Islamic Community Center, Weelsby Road, Grimsby, Lincolnshire in front of police officers who were guarding it at 10pm on May 25. Three days earlier, bricks were thrown through the windows of the mosque and cars parked nearby were damaged. Eleven arrested, six released without charge.
“Pakis Out” and “Islam murders scum” were daubed on the walls of Pleasington Cemetery prayer hall on Tower Road, Blackburn, Lancashire. A headstone had EDL written on it on May 31.
Islamophobic and racist graffiti daubed on walls and windows of UK Islamic Mission, Lingfield Drive, Moortown, Leeds, on May 31.
Graffiti, “F@ck Islam, Help for heros. EDL”, was daubed on the wall of Islamic Cultural & Education Centre, Churchway, Somerstown, London, on June 2.
In the CCTV footage captured a would-be arsonist placing lighting material on the doorstep of Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque in Tooting, south London, before returning to put it out.
In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the Met police said: “Officers from Wandworth CID are investigating an allegation of suspected arson at Church Lane Mosque, Tooting, at approximately 23:00 hrs on Saturday 1 June. There has been no damage to the Mosque. No injuries, no arrests and enquiries ongoing.”
On June 9 four teenagers were arrested in connection with an arson attack on a Muslim boarding school the previous day. Nearly 130 pupils and staff had to be evacuated from Darul Uloom School in Foxbury Avenue, Chislehurst as a result of the arson blaze which left two men needing treated for smoke inhalation.
Luckily, teachers reacted quickly and extinguished the flames, leaving only minor damage to the school.
Shocked school Principal, Mustafa Musa, praised firefighters and paramedics, saying: “The fire and ambulance services responded rapidly and ensured no one was seriously injured.
“Two boys suffered smoke inhalation injuries, but thank God they are recovering.”
Two men entered Dixy Chicken shop owned by a Muslim on Green Street, Newham, east London, on May 23, banged on the serving counter, shouted, “You killed one of our soldiers, we’ll kill you before vandalising the shop. Two men have been charged with religiously aggravated offences.
Graffiti, saying, ‘Hell 2 Muslims. EDL’ was written on Mitcham Junction Railway Bridge, Carshalton Road, Mithcham, south London.
In Romney, Cardiff, Wales, anti Muslim graffiti was painted on a wall.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the attack on Al-Rahma Islamic Centre was a wake-up call for more “serious action” against Islamophobia.
MCB Secretary General, Farooq Murad, said: “We need to hear from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the leaders of Association of Chief Police Officers as to what they will be doing to protect this rise in attacks.”
If you or anyone you know have been subject to an Islamophobic attack or discrimination of any kind please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or t-020 8863 8586 or m- 07768 241325 (out of office hours) all submissions will be dealt with the utmost of confidence. Thank you.