UK Muslims Face Rising Hostility After Woolwich Murder
Muslims in the United Kingdom are facing rising hostility in the wake of the brutal murder of a British soldier in London last week.
Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old drummer (private) in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was struck by a car while walking down a Woolwich street, then hacked to death by two assailants, who were later shot and arrested by police. The assailants, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, told witnesses the attack was intended as revenge for the killings of Muslims by British soldiers overseas. The aftermath of the murder, and what appears to be a confession, were captured by witnesses on cell phone video.
Police have arrested three additional suspects in relation to the murder.
Some 1,500 members of an extremist right-wing group calling itself the English Defense League marched in Newcastle, chanting Rigby's name. The group has repeatedly been linked to violence in clashes with anti-Fascist protestors. Three people were arrested before the march for racist tweets; and 24 others were detained for public drunkenness, vandalism and distributing racist literature. Riot police were dispatched to prevent violence between the group and about 350 counter-demonstrators.
In Portsmouth, police arrested two men during a protest outside a local mosque.
The far-right British National Party has announced a rally next weekend on the spot where Rigby was slain. The group advocates for “firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home,” and the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation. It restricted membership to "indigenous British" people until 2010.
Non-profit group Faith Matters, which runs an anti-Muslim violence helpline, has received reports of 150 anti-Muslim hate crimes since the murder. “Some of them are quite aggressive, very focused, very aggressive attacks ... against institutions or places where Muslims congregate,” said Fiyaz Mughal, the group's director.