LONDON (Reuters) – Muslims have been subjected to a higher than usual level of abuse since Thursday’s bomb attacks in London, police and Muslim groups said on Sunday.
But they have also received thousands of messages of support from non-Muslims who recognise the vast majority of the country’s 1.6 million Muslims have no sympathy for those who carried out the attacks.
Three Islamist groups have claimed responsibility for the blasts, which government ministers said bore the hallmarks of the Islamic militant al Qaeda network.
Police said one person was assaulted and seriously injured in London in what they described as a hate crime, and Muslims reported attacks on several mosques.
“I think it’s probably an increase on the general level of hate crime that we experience in London,” said police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick. “There is a slight increase in the number of complaints about these incidents.”
“But this is London,” he added. “It is the most diverse capital city in the world.
“We’ve got Londoners, faith groups, everybody being united in adversity as a result of the attacks rather than fragmenting, which I think just says something about the uniqueness of London and the spirit of the people of London.”
Muslim community leaders confirmed they had seen a rise in abuse following the bombings, which tore through the city’s transport network killing at least 49 people and injuring 700.
“We’ve been getting hate mail every few minutes,” said Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News newspaper, based just outside London. “I would usually get maybe one abusive message every two weeks but there’s been something every day since Thursday.”
However, he said the paper had also received plenty of calls and messages of support from non-Muslims.
Iqbal Sacranie, head of Britain’s largest Muslim lobby group, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), reported several attacks on mosques in northwest England and one in London.
He said the MCB had been bombarded with hate mail but had also received a lot of support.
Britain’s religious leaders have called on all faith communities to pull together in the wake of Thursday’s attacks.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, joined Muslim, Jewish and other Christian leaders in issuing a joint statement on Sunday condemning the bombings.