Thursday 21 September 2017

Spike in anti-Muslim incidents after London Bridge terror attack

Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Hayden Smith

The van attack near Finsbury Park Mosque follows warnings of an unprecedented anti-Muslim backlash after recent terrorist atrocities.

Police in London recorded a spike in the number of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the London Bridge outrage earlier this month, with 20 recorded on June 6 - compared with a daily average of 3.5.

It was the highest daily tally for 2017, and also higher than the numbers registered after the Paris attacks in November 2015, and the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013.

In a speech last week, a former police chief warned that anti-Muslim sentiment online has been "relentless" following the London Bridge attack on June 3.

Mak Chishty, an ex-Metropolitan Police commander who had been the country's most senior Muslim officer before his retirement, said: "The backlash has been something of a different scale."

While the circumstances and suspected motivations behind the Finsbury Park incident are yet to be made clear, it comes amid mounting concern over far-right extremism in the UK.

Warnings that the threat could be growing were raised after the conviction of Thomas Mair for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year.

The Government's Prevent and Channel programmes, which work to intervene before individuals are drawn into violent extremism, have seen a rise in the number of referrals linked to far-right ideology.

Counter-terrorism police have said that, while the threat is not of the same gravity as that posed by Islamic State or al Qaida, there are extreme right-wing groups attempting to provoke violence and sow discord.

Figures on terror-related arrests have shown an increasing number of white suspects are being held.

In the year to the end of March, there were 113 arrests of white people, compared with 68 in the year before - an increase of 66%.

The white ethnic group accounted for 37% of all terrorism-related arrests in the 12 months, compared with 26% in the previous year.

Statistics on individuals' ethnicity are not broken down by type of suspected extremism.

Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank, said: "Coming a year after the murder of Jo Cox, we have witnessed what appears to be another hateful act in the community.

"It is looking increasingly likely that this is the latest example of a growing threat of far-right extremism in the UK.

"The Government must ensure urgently the security services have all the resources they need to investigate and prevent extremism-inspired attacks of whatever origin."

Press Association

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