A monitoring group has reported a huge surge in threats against Muslims and mosques following the gruesome beheading of an elderly woman in north London, blamed with no evidence on Muslims.
“The assumption is ‘beheading equals Muslim’. The association, for some, is an automatic response,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell Mama monitoring group, told The Guardian.
82-year-old Palmira Silva was beheaded in her garden in Edmonton, north London on Thursday by 25-year-old Nicholas Salvador.
The murder triggered a local manhunt with police ordering residents out of their homes while the assailant jumped over fences behind people’s houses.
The nature of the murder led many to believe it was a copycat attack after the beheading of two American journalists in Iraq last week, with many quick to blame the attack on Muslims even before any details were made available.
One newspaper report claimed the Edmonton suspect was a Muslim convert. But police stressed the lack of a radical connection in three separate statements.
The baseless attacks against Muslims have resulted into immediate spike in anti-Muslim threats over the past two weeks, according to the monitoring group.
Mughal said the nature of many threats on social media had changed: “They are not saying ‘we hate you’ or ‘we hate Muslims’, but [are making] actual threats of attacks against Muslims and mosques.”
A similar increase has been reported after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London.
Within the two months, following the solider killing, about 86% of faith hate crimes in the county have targeted Muslims, falling victim to 12 out of total 14 crimes.
The figures were striking if compared to the only two anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded within six-month period before Lee Rigby’s killing in May 2013.
In September 2013, about 15 anti-Muslim hate crimes were recorded, compared with three in the same month in 2012 and nine in 2011.
Hundreds of anti-Muslim hate offences have been carried out across UK in 2013, with Britain’s Metropolitan police recording an increase of 49% than last year.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 500 Islamophobic offences from January to mid-November this year, compared with 336 offences in 2012 and 318 in 2011.
An earlier report by think-tank Chatham House identified a considerable Islamophobic sentiment in Britain, detecting a “wide reservoir of public sympathy for claims that Islam and the growth of settled, Muslim communities pose a fundamental threat to the native group and nation.”
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims. ONISLAM