Murder sparks anti-Muslim backlash

Date: 03/07/2013


25 May 2013
Murder sparks anti-Muslim backlash

The closed road on Artillery Place near the scene in Woolwich Drummer Lee Rigby was killed near Woolwich Barracks on Wednesday
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Woolwich attack
There has been a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents since the murder of a British soldier in Woolwich, an inter-faith charity has said.
Faith Matters, which runs a helpline, said they had received 162 calls since Wednesday's attack, up from a daily average of six.

A number of people have been charged after allegedly offensive comments were made on social media websites.

Drummer Lee Rigby was killed near Woolwich Barracks on Wednesday.

Shortly after his killing, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo was filmed by a passer-by saying he had carried out the attack because British soldiers killed Muslims every day.

Mr Adebolajo and a second suspect, Michael Adebowale, 22, were arrested at the scene and remain in hospital after they were shot by police. Both men were known to the security services, sources told the BBC.

'Significant online activity'
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, said the nature of the incidents ranged from attacks against mosques, graffiti, the pulling off of Muslim women's headscarves and more general name calling and abuse.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "What's really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They're coming in from right across the country.

"Secondly, some of them are quite aggressive very focused, very aggressive attacks.

"And thirdly, there also seems to be significant online activity... suggesting co-ordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate."

Since the attack, a number of people have been charged by police after allegedly offensive messages were posted on social media websites.

These include a 22-year-old man from Lincoln, a 28-year-old man from London, a 23-year-old woman from Southsea, and a 19-year-old man from Woking.

MI5 approach
Three men - two from Gateshead and one from Stockton - have been arrested by Northumbria Police on suspicion of posting racist tweets ahead of a protest by the English Defence League in Newcastle.

A friend of Mr Adebolajo, Abu Nusaybah, was arrested on Friday night on BBC premises following an interview with BBC Newsnight.

The arrest was not directly related to the murder of Drummer Rigby, the Met Police said.

Mr Nusayabah told the programme that Mr Adebolajo had rejected an approach by MI5 to work for them around six months ago.

Abu Nusaybah: "They (MI5) asked him if he'd be interested in working for them"

It followed a trip to Kenya where Mr Nusaybah said Mr Adebolajo had been detained by security forces.

He said he noticed "a change" in Mr Adebolajo when he returned from Africa last year.

Abu Nusaybah said Mr Adebolajo suggested he had been physically and sexually abused during an interrogation in a prison cell in the African country.

After this, he became withdrawn "and less talkative - he wasn't his bubbly self", Abu Nusaybah added.

Next week the director general of MI5 Andrew Parker is expected to present an initial report on the role of the security services to a Parliamentary committee, which is carrying out an investigation.

Both Mr Adebolajo and Mr Adebowale are understood to be converts to Islam, with Mr Adebolajo originally coming from a Christian family.

Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the anti-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there is a "disproportionate number of convicted terrorists who've come from a conversion background".

Batool Al-Toma, an Irish-born woman who converted to Islam 25 years ago, said those who do convert may feel a "sense of isolation and alienation from family and friends".

"This may be a vulnerability that could be cashed in on by people in the Muslim community with a more radical expression of Islam," she said.

Speaking about the fight against the rise of the extremist ideology, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy told the BBC there had been a "steady stream of plots", which had on the whole been foiled by police.

Drummer Lee Rigby's family paid tribute to him in an emotional news conference

But he said the police and the security services were "particularly concerned" about people travelling from Britain to conflict areas such as Mali, Syria and Iraq and the increase in extremist websites.

On Friday, Drummer Rigby's wife Rebecca, the mother of his two-year-old son, said she had been aware of the dangers of her husband serving in countries where there was armed conflict, including Afghanistan, but added: "You don't expect it to happen when he's in the UK. You think they're safe."

She said: "I love Lee and always will. I am proud to be his wife. He was a devoted father to our son Jack and we will both miss him terribly."

Drummer Rigby's stepfather, Ian Rigby, said: "We would like to say 'Goodnight Lee, rest in peace our fallen soldier. We love you loads and words cannot describe how loved and sadly missed you will be'."

Mr Rigby added that his stepson "adored and cared a lot for his family, he was very much a family man, looking out for his wife, young son Jack, younger sisters, whom in turn they looked up to him".

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