Campaigners call for action against Islamophobia

Campaigners call for action against Islamophobia

By Louise Nousratpour

Morning Star, 11 July 2005

Peace campaigners called for urgent action against burgeoning Islamophobia in the light of the London bombings after news of a series of hate crimes in and outside the capital yesterday.

The most serious of these incidents was an arson attack on the Shahjalal Mosque in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in the early hours of Saturday morning. The building was empty at the time, but one man living in a flat above the mosque was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.

Merseyside TUC secretary Alec McFadden said that the trade union movement will not sit in silence over these “fascist and criminal” attacks on innocent people. “We all feared that, following the London attacks, far-right groups would use them to attack innocent Muslim communities”, he added.

Commenting on the arson attack, Mr McFadden said that he was convinced it was the work of fascist BNP members travelling in from neighbouring areas such as Oldham and Burnley. “Our Merseyside Coalition Against Fascism and Racism is very strong and, wherever the BNP raises its ugly head, we are there to stamp it out”, he insisted. Mr McFadden added that the coalition would be getting in touch with Muslim leaders in the area and “taking it from there”.

A National Assembly Against Racism spokesman also condemned the appalling acts. He called on the British public to ensure that “no community is victimised or divided in the light of the devastating London bombings”. He slammed BNP members for being quick to blame the London bombings on the Muslim community and accused the fascists of exploiting the issue to incite racism.

“It is the responsibility of those in power not to allow the whipping up of Islamophobia here as it did after 9/11”, he argued. “It is the duty of all of us to stand up and support the Muslim communities against retaliations for the Thursday atrocities.”

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick confirmed that his force had recorded several cases of racial and religiously motivated offences since Thursday’s blasts. He did not reveal any further details, but said: “Thankfully, none of these have been the cause of major damage, although there was a serious injury reported.” Police pledged to treat all such attacks “very seriously”.