The brutal death of soldier Lee Rigby has led to a wave of reprisal attacks against Muslims and Muslim places of worship, as a Somali community centre was burned down to the ground on Wednesday in a suspected racist attack.
On Wednesday morning of this week, a Somali Welfare Association which was also used as a Mosque was burned down to the ground in an arson attack which is been treated as racist by police. The letters ‘EDL’ (English Defence League) was found written on the outside of the centre. The EDL has denied any involvement in the attack on the Welfare centre and Mosque, however the police suspect that the arson was racially motivated.
Farooq Murad, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain , said:
“It is time for serious action against such crimes.
“The British Muslim community came out in droves to condemn this murder, and it is despicable that Muslims should be held to account and suffer in this way.
“We had fine and decisive words from our leaders condemning the actions of the English Defence League, now we need a proper response from our police authorities, starting with a national police response to this issue…” (Sky News: Islamic Centre Fire: Muslims ‘Need Protection’: 6 June, 2013)
Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission told Sky News:
“Muslims feel scared right now and it is completely understandable.
“Muslims have been physically attacked, mosques burnt down, cemeteries vandalised and social media is full of anti-Muslim hatred and violent threats towards Muslims.
“More needs to be done to protect the Muslim community.”
Massoud also said that more needed to be done by the authorities to protect the Muslim community and minorities and felt that the arson attack confirmed his fears that not enough was being done.
According to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) around 200 incidents of Anti Muslim attacks have been recorded since last Wednesday when Lee Rigby was murdered. Teenagers threw bricks through the window of a Mosque in Grimsby, a man smashed up a Mosque in Gillingham. In Bletchley a burning bottle was thrown into a Mosque with thirty worshippers inside. Petrol bombs were thrown inside Grimsby Mosque whilst families and children were inside, two ex soldiers were responsible for the attack and charged. Another soldier tried to burn down a Mosque in Rhyl, Wales. In East London a gang tried to rip off a young girl’s niqab (IRR: Upsurge in anti-Muslim attacks: by Jon Burnett: May 30, 2013)
These are just a fraction of the incidents and inevitably the tensions will continue to rise.
The Unite Against Fascism (UAF) group have organised a vigil outside the Somali centre today at 6pm in an effort to unite the community against what they believe to be racist groups trying to gain from Lee Rigby’s murder and fuel community tensions. The vigil’s headline is ‘DON’T LET THE RACISTS DIVIDE US‘ at 6-7pm, outside the Bravenese Centre, 116 Coppetts Road, Muswel Hil, London, N10 1JS.
While I applaud the efforts of UAF, who have confronted the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) on many occasions on the streets of Britain, I do question their confrontational tactics, which often turn to physical fights. I also question their inability to tackle the bigger picture, namely the British government’s foreign policy and the private financial elite who funds the wars in the first place. In all the confrontations between UAF and the far right, what really has been achieved? How many British people are aware of what their government do overseas? What about talking to the soldiers who fight these wars on behalf of private investors? There are tactics which can be employed but are not being employed in favour of the ineffective protests we see often on our streets.
Then there are the so called Muslim leaders. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and leaders of Mosques, who were very vocal when it came to condemning the murder of Lee Rigby, but fall silent when it comes to British terrorism overseas, and then they wonder why some young Muslims are led astray and turn militant.
On the MCB website I was disappointed to read that Dr Shuja Shafi, the Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain,Tariq Abbasi, Chair of Greenwich Islamic Centre, Julie Siddiqui, Vice president, Islamic Society of Britain and Saeed Ahmad, Greenwich Independent Police Advisory Group, visited the site of Lee Rigby’s attack and laid wreaths. (MCB Leads a Delegation of Community Leaders to Pay Respects After Woolwich Attack: MCB: 24 May, 2013) It was not the humanitarian gesture that disappointed me, but the hypocrisy that many Muslim civilians, men, women and children have been murdered by British soldiers and these leaders have not asked David Cameron to visit the sites and pay their respects. It is the hypocrisy such as this headline I read on the MCB website, ‘Make Tea, Not War: British Muslims Urged To Open Mosques To Public’. This article on May 31, urged Muslims to open their Mosques to the British public and fight extremism.
With such weak leadership it is no wonder that Islamic militants can recruit young Muslims into committing acts of violence.
Yes, Muslims should open their Mosques to the British people, to inform and educate them about what the British government is doing in Muslim lands.
Muslims should open their Mosques to British people, offer them tea, scones and a leaflet explaining that the two men who were responsible for Lee Rigby’s death was known to British MI5 for years, and it was in fact the MI5 who escorted one of the killers to Britain with an undercover Scotland Yard detective. (Who Was Behind the Woolwich Killing? Criminality of Britain’s Ruling Elite: Global Research: Chris Marsden: June 1, 2013) I wonder if David Cameron told the family of Lee Rigby this information?
Until the information freely available in this global communication age is used effectively to engage communities and provoke independent, critical thinking that leads to opposition against governments and groups that seek war above peace and exploitation above cooperation, the violence will continue to rise.
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