Imran Awan

Imran Awan

By Imran Awan – Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University

The recent nail bomb attack on a mosque in Tipton in the Midlands has again brought into sharp focus the threat British Muslims are facing from terrorists adamant on reprisal attacks following Woolwich. The incident which took place last Friday was clearly designed to cause as much damage as possible.  The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, also acknowledged the seriousness of the attack. She told the House of Commons on Monday that this was a ‘cowardly act’ and that Britain would not be ‘divided by terrorism.’

This is not the first mosque targeted since Woolwich, indeed a number of mosques have been the victim of these reprisal attacks. For example, in the Midlands, a mosque in Walsall was the subject of a police enquiry after a suspicious package with a small home-made explosive device was discovered. And earlier in May, following the Woolwich backlash, two arrests were made after petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque in Grimsby. Other attacks include arson, vandalism and graffiti scrawled against mosque walls with racist language such as Nazi swastikas and the KKK left on windows and walls.

On Friday, following the attack in Tipton, I took part in a live interview with a radio station who asked me why I thought mosques were being targeted. Mosques come in all forms and shapes, from the traditional terraced house to the larger expansions within main cities. For Muslims they are a beacon for the community both educationally and spiritually. They are an integral part of British society. However, assuming this attack was conducted by someone from the far right, for them mosques are a place of difference and a breeding ground for hate and extremism. How wrong they are!

This is a time when communities need to come together and not be divided. A time when we as a country stretch out our hand to the Muslim community to offer them our support. Instead, the English Defence League is planning a march this weekend in Birmingham.

I am all for freedom of speech, however the EDL march clearly risks creating tension and even sparking violence in the heart of our racially diverse city. Britain is a muicultural society and one that will always support British Muslims and the sooner the far right realise this the better.

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