Finsbury Park Mosque fears rise in Islamaphobic hate crime

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Police near Finsbury Park MosqueImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The warning comes four weeks after worshippers were attacked outside Finsbury Park Mosque

The chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque has warned Islamophobia has risen since the recent terror attacks in the UK.

Mohammed Kozbar said the mosque had experienced “a rise of hate letters, threatening letters… and something needs to be done about it”.

It comes four weeks after worshipers were attacked as they left Finsbury Park Mosque.

The Metropolitan Police’s own figures show a 13% rise in Islamaphobic crimes in the past year.

Mr Kozbar told BBC London the past month had been the “most difficult and challenging month since we came here 12 years ago”.

He added: “After the all terror attacks… we’ve seen a rise of hate letters, threatening letters. They are very nasty letters and we reported them to the police. It is worrying for us and for the community and something needs to be done about it.

“They are nasty, and some of them are life threatening.”

Image caption Mohammed Kozbar called for tougher penalties for those that commit hate crimes

Mr Kozbar said some letters the mosque had received suggested last month’s attack was “just the beginning” and warned of a “river of blood”. He added that others threatened to bomb the local Muslim community.

“All these sort of things, which is very nasty and very worrying, something that makes us feel like we need protection and this is why we are in contact with the police and the authorities to make sure how we can protect our community… we need to make sure that all are protected and safe and this is what we are trying to do with the police,” he added.

Image caption Merium Bhuiyan said women were “having their headscarves taken off” in the street

Local resident Merium Bhuiyan told BBC London women in the local community were frightened to wear their headscarves for fear of attack.

“It’s a really frightening time for all of us… With a headscarf I do feel slightly more exposed. You do feel more vulnerable,” she said.

“I have many Muslim women friends and they’re afraid to wear their headscarves. Some have even taken them off. I have women friends who are fully covered and they really feel frightened at the moment. It’s definitely a scary time.”

She said women were “having their headscarves taken off” or were being shouted at in the street.

“It would be good to have a stronger and more visible police presence and possibly stronger deterrents to stop people from ruining people’s lives,” she added.

Mr Kozbar said he would like to see tougher penalties for the perpetrators of hate crimes and more vigorous investigations by the police.

He added: “We are not asking to catch every perpetrator who sends a letter or something like that because we know it is impossible but we expect something to be done about some of these letters and to get to the bottom of it and find out who is behind it.”

Image caption Ch Supt Dave Stringer said experienced detectives looked into hate crime

Ch Supt Dave Stringer, head of community engagement for the Metropolitan Police, said the force took “Islamaphobic hate crime and all kinds of hate crime very seriously”.

“We allocate cases to experienced detectives and they do whatever they can in terms of their investigative abilities to support the victims, to chase the suspect and to bring that suspect to justice.”

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