POLICE forces throughout Britain have recorded a steep rise in racist attacks since last month’s London bombings. Most are directed at Muslims though Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists have also come under attack.
The Metropolitan Police reported a 600 per cent rise in faith-hate crimes compared to the same period last year. West Yorkshire and the West Midlands have seen similar rises. The level of attacks in south Yorkshire has just about doubled, from 48 in July 2004 to 137 this year. Nationally there has been a 24 per cent rise.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission says there is a growing feeling of fear among Muslims. Right-wing Tory MP Gerald Howarth added fuel to the flames by saying that extremist Muslims, even those born in Britain, should leave the country.
Speaking for the Muslim Association of Britain, Anas Altikriti replied: “Mr Howarth must realise that his own statement will have a real and serious bearing on the street. “There are people who will take his words and understand them in a particular way and this will induce further harm rather than good.”
Many blame the gutter press for stoking racial hatred in the wake of the bombings as they point out that a couple of the alleged bombing suspects had claimed benefits – as though that were also a crime comparable to bombing – and printing misleading opinion polls about the views of Muslims living in Britain.
For example, a Daily Telegraph piece claimed that “thirty-two per cent of British Muslims think western society is decadent and immoral and should be brought to an end” – failing to point out the final phrase “but only by non-violent means”, with which 31 per cent of respondents agreed. Only one per cent agreed with the final phrase “is necessary by violence”. Statisticians regard a figure of one per cent as meaningless.
Furthermore the paper failed to point out that a large proportion of the general non-Muslim population also agreed with the first statement.
The neo-Nazi and racist organisations have reacted violently and aggressively; their websites urging members and supporters on to the streets to attack and assail Muslims. There have been several fascist marches and demonstrations directed against the Muslim community in Britain.
On Sunday 24th July, in the pouring rain, there were two separate fascist marches in West London, both targeted at the Regent’s Park Mosque. Around 200 members and supporters of the newly-formed United British Association assembled in the Hobgoblin pub in Balcombe Street, near Baker Street Tube, and set off at around 2pm, shepherded by hundreds of police. The group included football hooligans, former squaddies and Nazis. They carried just one flag and with no banners or placards, few passers-by had any clue who or what they were.
Police drew them to a halt several hundred yards away from the mosque and directed them to a specially prepared pen for them to conduct a small rally. They refused to enter the pen. Sharp words and gestures were exchanged with the police as they expressed their disappointment at not getting even within visual distance of the mosque. The stalemate lasted a long time as the rain continued to pour. Eventually the march turned around and headed back in the direction of Baker Street Tube.
As they did so, in the distance they could see the second march, organised by the National Front and about 20-strong.
The UBA march had one final humiliation. It had begun in a pub and after what seemed like ages hanging around in the rain, by the time they reached Baker Street Tube, many of them were desperate for access to a toilet.
There was no way the police were going to allow that many to abuse some back alley so they penned them in again and tried to negotiate with local pubs to allow them to use their facilities. The pubs, unsurprisingly, categorically refused. So the “hard men” of the hard right had to wait in discomfort.
Last Sunday ten members of the National Front tried to demonstrate in Crawley against a peaceful procession of local Muslims to their mosque. Police had them firmly hemmed in some distance from the procession.