Mosques attacked by arsonists as Asians fear surge of race hate

Mosques attacked by arsonists as Asians fear surge of race hate

By Robert Verkaik

Independent, 11 July 2005

The terrorist attacks in London have provoked reprisal attacks on Asians. Police are investigating several incidents, including four arson attacks on mosques, that may have been motivated by revenge.

The arson attacks were carried out in mosques in Leeds, Belvedere, Telford and Birkenhead. Three further attacks were reported on mosques in east London and Bristol. In the attack on the east London mosque, 19 windows were smashed, according to the newspaper The Muslim News.

In Hayes, Middlesex, an Asian woman reported attempted arson after she noticed “liquid dripping down her door and smelt petrol” on the day of the terrorist attacks in London. The same day, five white men were arrested after bottles were thrown at the windows of a Sikh temple in south London. In a separate incident, arson was reported at the home of an Asian family in The Broadway, Southall.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that the force was keeping an open mind on the motive for the London attacks, but that many of the allegations involved threatening phone calls or racist abuse. A spokesman said “reassurance patrols” were being carried out in areas considered vulnerable.

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain said there was a real sense of “fear and apprehension” among many Muslim communities, particularly in London. Senior Muslim figures met over the weekend to discuss how best to deal with the increasingly tense climate. Sikh community leaders have asked the police for greater protection.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said yesterday that there was an “increased level of concern” among the public in general and the Muslim community in particular since the bombings in London on Thursday, but stressed community relations on the whole had been “reassuringly calm”.

Acpo’s president, Chris Fox, said he believed “low level” incidents of violence had not been reported to the police. “We encourage everyone to report this type of obnoxious and dangerous behaviour, from whatever quarter, for full police investigation because we are determined there will be a very robust enforcement response to it. It is absolutely crucial that there should be no reaction against any section of the community. That would simply play into the hands of the murderers,” he said.

Four mosques were also vandalised in Auckland, New Zealand, over the weekend, one with the phrase “R.I.P London”.