While New Zealanders may have come together in solidarity with the Muslim community after the Mosque attacks, the United Kingdom has seen a disturbing trend which suggest that the attacks have only encouraged explicit acts of hate.
Five mosques in Birmingham have had their windows smashed in the early hours of Thursday, March 21, in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack. Two days later, a window was smashed in another mosque in Birmingham, in the area of Balsall Heath.However, the police have since said in a statement that the attacks are not being treated as terror-related nor were they motivated by right wing extremism, after a 34 year old man handed himself into police on Friday and was subsequently detained under the Mental Health Act. The attack in Balsall Heath is being treated as a separate incident.
The reaction from the Muslim community has been one of shock and fear:
Adil Parker, of the Birmingham Council of Mosques, previously said the community had been “taken aback” by the vandalism, and that “The congregation is feeling fearful, they feel vulnerable and there is a lot of angst,”
On twitter, comments included the following:
So five mosques have been vandalised and attacked today in Birmingham with sledgehammers… SLEDGEHAMMERS. I’m sick to my stomach, there’s parents out there who now don’t want to take their kids to my mosque today in fear of being attacked.
— 👩🏽🎨 (@SeebaBeebaaa) March 21, 2019
This has not been isolated to Birmingham. In fact, the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain has increased by 593% in the week after the New Zealand tragedy, according to Tell Mama, an independent monitoring group of Islamophobic hate crimes. There were 95 incidents recorded the day of the Christchurch shootings, 85 of which made explicit reference to the attacks, for example, mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims, and statements said such as “you deserve it” and “Muslims must die”. Surrey has also seen the stabbing of a teenager, also a result of right wing extremism as declared by the Police.
Naturally, this has been linked with the wider problem of Islamophobia. General manager at Birmingham’s Green Lane Mosque and Community Centre, Kamran Hussain, told Al Jazeera, “Far-right extremism … is now in Eastern Europe, it is in America, and it has been left unchallenged in many aspects. We haven’t addressed it in the media or even at government level.” Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who is fighting her own battle against Islamophobia within the Conservative party has said in a recent interview that “Islamophobia is Britain’s bigotry blind sport”.