UK police hike security near mosques fearing reprisals

Last Updated: Fri, May 24, 2013 14:55 hrs

London: Police officers in Britain have been mounting additional patrols near mosques and monitoring the Internet fearing a backlash against Muslims from far-right extremists following the terror attack in London.

Controversial far-right group English Defence League (EDL) has declared itself "at war" with Islam following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, 25, by two Islamist extremists on Wednesday.

"What we are seeing is concerted action from individuals across the country. We are really concerned. When you see a wider picture of resentment and retribution, this is telling us its an increasing problem. Something is moving in a very disturbing direction," said Fiyaz Mughal, director of inter-faith charity Faith Matters.

The charity's Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) helpline, set up to tackle Islamophobia in Britain, logged 38 cases over Wednesday night alone and more have been reported since, including graffiti and vandalism at mosques and a number of Muslims, including children, being abused in the street.

"We can't allow the voices of the far right to become louder than ours in the coming days. All of the Muslim organisations have come out with the strongest possible terms to say there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever, no justification for anything like this," said Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain.

In response to fears of a prolonged backlash against the Muslim community, the Metropolitan Police put 1,200 more officers on the street yesterday, stepping up patrols at religious sites.

The force has also confirmed that officers are monitoring social media for signs of people trying to exploit the attack to stoke a backlash.

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