theguardian: by Homa Khaleeli.
From online abuse to fire bombs thrown at mosques, there has been a spike in anti-Muslim attacks. While many incidents are not reported to the police, groups such as the Tell Mama project paint a worrying picture of rising Islamophobia and violence
“I don’t really want to go out now,” Rizwan Ali says anxiously. “If I needed something I used to just go to the shops, but I’ve been staying in.” On 24 May the father of four had been to Friday prayers at his local mosque. On his way home he popped into Pound Stretcher to look at gardening equipment. As he browsed he noticed another customer staring at him.
“He was looking at me, as though I had done something,” Ali (not his real name), explains. “Then he started shouting: ‘You are a Muslim, you are a soldier killer.’ I was shocked and scared. It was very upsetting. I moved to the front of the shop, but he kept following me.”
Since the brutal murder of drummer Lee Rigby earlier this month, campaigners say that such anti-Muslim incidents have been repeated across the country. Monitoring groups have recorded the targeting of 11 mosques, while women wearing hijab have complained about being spat at, or having their headscarves pulled off. This week, a community centre and mosque was destroyed in a fire and police are investigating whether it was firebombed, after reports that fire crews saw the letters EDL scrawled on the side of the building. Online, activists say there have been shocking levels of vitriol unleashed. But the attacks have also revitalised the argument over whether Islamophobia, and the targeting of Muslims, is being overstated. The Metropolitan police’s head of counter-terrorism, Cressida Dick, calls the wave of attacks “horrible” and agrees there has been an increase, but says “compared to previous times we have had slightly less”.