Fears that Muslim communities across the country are facing a sustained wave of attacks and intimidation have intensified after it emerged that almost 200 Islamophobic incidents had been reported since the murder of British soldier Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London, last week.
That number includes attacks on 10 mosques and follows a weekend of protests by far-right groups, the largest of which saw hundreds of English Defence League supporters stage a protest outside Downing Street that ended with bottles being thrown and 13 arrests. Four men have been charged with offences including possession of a bladed article, possession of class A drugs and public order offences following the EDL protest and a counter demonstration.
The Tell Mama hotline for recording Islamophobic incidents said 193 incidents had been reported by Monday evening, with more expected to come in. Before the death of Rigby, the service recorded an average of three or four incidents a day.
In Grimsby on Tuesday, two men reported to be former soldiers were remanded in custody at the town’s magistrates court after a mosque was petrol bombed. Stuart Harness, 33, and Gavin Humphries, 37, were charged with arson with intent to endanger life. No pleas were entered and the pair are due to appear at Grimsby crown court next month.
The Tell Mama co-ordinator, Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, said he feared there would be an escalation in attacks on Muslim communities. “These things are cumulative and I do not see an end to this cycle of violence,” said Mughal. “There is an underlying Islamophobia in our society and the horrendous events in Woolwich have brought this to the fore and inflamed the situation.”