East London Muslims fear rise in Islamophobia

Muslims attending Friday prayers at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel in the heart of the UK’s largest Muslim community were abuzz with news of the latest terror arrests. “I hope they’re prosecuted. The police are doing what they should be doing. We want secure places as much as anyone else,” said Tariq, a middle aged, besuited man of Asian origin.

Sayed Tahel Ahmed, a bearded young man who has worked for the borough of Tower Hamlets in victim support, said people were afraid of a rise in Islamophobia. In his experience, it was women who took the brunt of the hostility, which he believed was under-reported. “We keep getting these scary stories, but were not dealing as a society with how to stop it,” said Mr Ahmed.

He said 99.9 per cent of British Muslims would not hesitate to go to the police if they had information about a planned terrorist attack, but that the real terrorists were always the people no-one would suspect.

“There needs to be more research into why people carry out suicide attacks,” said Mr Ahmed, who suspected that would-be terrorists were motivated much more by politics than by religion.

Financial Times, 11 August 2006