London mosque attack: Newspapers are spreading hate, warns Muslim of Council of Britain – The Independent

Muslim leaders have spoken out against the media for fuelling Islamophobia, following a deadly attack on a north London mosque.

In the hours after a van was driven into worshippers as they finished late night prayers, local leaders and members of the Muslim community warned about rising anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Hatred against Muslims is unacceptable as well,” Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, told Sky News.

“We have national newspapers spreading hate and talking about how less Islam is the answer to terrorism that we face right now. 

“These people are spreading hate against Muslims and people might be responding to that hate, talking about less Islam, and [something like this attack] may be the result.”

He added: “We cannot have this happening. We have had a number of incidents against Muslim communities. Hate crime has gone up considerably according to the Metropolitan Police, according to the Mayor of London, according to many third party sources as well.”

Mr Versi did not name any particular publications. 

Social media users were quick to tweet examples of recent headlines in national newspapers that appeared to portray Muslims in a negative light.

Talking on the Daily Sunday Politics, Mr Versi praised the Government for “taking the attack seriously”.

“I think that we have to recognise, however, that many Muslim communities have been talking about the rise in hate crimes against Muslims for many, many years, and have been worried about that, and unfortunately there has not been the action that we’ve expected.”

He was joined in his calls by other Muslim leaders, including the chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque, Mohammed Kozbar.

“An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths and communities,” he said, as he stood beside Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He said that on the day of the attack local Muslims in Islington had been celebrating the legacy of Jo Cox, the Yorkshire MP who was murdered by an extremist last year, as part of national “Great Get Together” events.

The Muslim leaders’ comments come as Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack on the mosque as “evil” and “sickening”. She also visited the scene to speak with emergency services.

“There has been far too much tolerance of extremism in our country over many years – and  that means extremism of any kind, including Islamophobia,” she said.

She vowed, once again, to stamp down on growing extremism online and said she would create a new Commission for Countering Terrorism.

The attack was also condemned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Labour leader Corbyn, the Archbishop of Canterbury and mainstream figures such as Piers Morgan and J K Rowling.

Dr Chris Allen, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham and who quit the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia in 2014, told Radio 4 that he quit due to the Government’s “constant focus on extremism”.

“Yes we do have to tackle extremism and radicalisation but we can’t actually see that this is one and the same,” he said. 

“We need to be talking about and tackling homophobia in the same way that we’ve tackled other forms of discriminatory phenomena in this country over the last 20, 30, 40 years.”

The suspect in the latest attack was taken to hospital and will undergo a mental health assessment, according to police.

It follows three other terrorist attacks in Manchester, London Bridge and Westminster, carried out by radical Islamic extremists, which killed a total of 34 people and injuring more than 200 in the last three months.

Police arrested a 48-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder in the early hours of Monday morning.

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