Mus­lims tar­geted by vi­o­lence in wake of IS claimed at­tacks

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WORLD -

The at­tack on Mus­lim wor­ship­pers out­side a Lon­don mosque on Mon­day fol­lows a ris­ing wave of vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment di­rected against Mus­lims across Britain and around the world.

This month alone, a Mus­lim woman wear­ing a head scarf told po­lice in Lan­cashire her car was struck by a bag of vomit. Wor­ship­pers at the Omar Faruque mosque in Cam­bridge found strips of ham at­tached to their ve­hi­cles. Sev­eral Mus­lim fam­i­lies have re­ported re­ceiv­ing letters warn­ing, “You are no longer wel­come in this coun­try.” Scores say they have been spat on.

Across Britain, Mus­lims say they are be­ing tar­geted by a wave of an­i­mos­ity and vi­o­lence sim­ply be­cause of the way they dress and wor­ship, and be­cause they share a re­li­gion hi­jacked by blood­thirsty ex­trem­ists like the Is­lamic State group, which was quick to claim re­spon­si­bil­ity for re­cent at­tacks in Britain and else­where. In Mon­day’s at­tack, a man plowed a van into a crowd of wor­ship­pers, in­jur­ing at least nine peo­ple — a tac­tic used in the re­cent at­tacks on West­min­ster and Lon­don bridges.

Lon­don’s Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Cres­sida Dick, said Mon­day’s as­sault out­side two mosques dur­ing the holy month of Ra­madan was clearly “an at­tack on Mus­lims.”

“We are easy tar­gets be­cause of the way we dress and when we pray,” said Has­san Ali, a 34-year-old res­i­dent of Fins­bury Park, a north Lon­don neigh­bour­hood that is home to a large Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion and where the at­tack oc­curred. “But ev­ery time there is an at­tack here or else­where, we are blamed. When we are at­tacked, peo­ple look away.”

Since the wave of Is-in­spired ter­ror at­tacks in Britain, there has been a five-fold in­crease of hate crimes against Mus­lims. Ten­sions have also been run­ning high since Britain’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union, a vote that was largely driven by anti-im­mi­grant rhetoric — a mes­sage that was fur­ther re­in­forced by some of Britain’s right-lean­ing tabloids and spread by pop­ulist Euro­pean politi­cians promis­ing to stem im­mi­gra­tion and tackle ter­ror­ism as­so­ci­ated with IS.

Such at­tacks against Mus­lims have been on a world­wide in­crease. In Jan­uary, a white na­tion­al­ist opened fire on an Is­lamic cul­tural cen­tre in Que­bec City, Canada, killing six peo­ple and wound­ing nearly 20. In the same month, the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, was de­stroyed by a fire in what au­thor­i­ties called a hate crime and another mosque was burned to the ground. Last year, nearly 100 mosques were at­tacked in Ger­many and dozens across Europe have been tar­geted by ar­son­ists this year.

Stir­ring ten­sion plays an im­por­tant part in Is­lamic State and al-qaida pro­pa­ganda, as well as pro­pa­ganda by rightlean­ing po­lit­i­cal groups.

Bren­dan Cox, the wid­ower of the slain Bri­tish par­lia­men­tar­ian Jo Cox, said both the far­right and Is­lamic ex­trem­ists are pro­pelled by po­lar­iza­tion.

“Far-right fas­cists and Is­lamic ter­ror­ists are driven by the same ha­tred of dif­fer­ence, same ide­ol­ogy of supremacy & use of same tac­tics,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

The Is­lamic State group and al-qaida have tar­geted Mus­lims liv­ing in the West, re­peat­edly say­ing they will never be fully ac­cepted mem­bers in a so­ci­ety of “un­be­liev­ers.”

The idea has been to sow mis­trust and drive both sides to the ex­tremes. In the case of IS, the pro­pa­ganda has gone even fur­ther, warn­ing Mus­lims that if they failed to ei­ther join the fight in de­fence of the ex­trem­ists’ self-de­clared caliphate in Iraq and Syria or carry out at­tacks in their home coun­tries, they them­selves were com­plicit in a sys­tem of op­pres­sion against Mus­lims.

Is­lamic State sup­port­ers used Mon­day’s at­tack to fuel more ten­sions by not­ing that the at­tacker, iden­ti­fied as 47-year-old Dar­ren Os­borne, was not shot to death, un­like the Lon­don Bridge at­tack­ers. “Mus­lims. you need to wake up, the war is start­ing now in your own streets,” the mes­sage went on, ac­cord­ing to the SITE In­tel­li­gence Group.

AP PHOTO

Peo­ple take part in a vigil Mon­day at Fins­bury Park in north Lon­don, fol­low­ing a ve­hi­cle at­tack wor­ship­pers.

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