15 March 2019
The Muslim Council of Britain today condemns the horrific, cowardly and Islamophobic terrorist attacks that have taken place in New Zealand today. Almost 50 people are said to have been murdered at two mosques at Christchurch.
The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has said that this can ‘only be described as a terrorist attack’ and the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the perpetrator ‘an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist.’
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain offered his condolences to the families. He said: “This is the most deadly Islamophobic terrorist attack we have witnessed in recent times. It would seem that Brenton Tarrant’s murderous intention was to target Muslims at their places of worship and on their sacred day. Reports suggested the attacker is on record spouting hate against Muslims and other minority communities.
My condolences to the families affected. As the rest of us prepare to undertake our own Friday prayers today, we do so with the anxiety as to whether our mosques and communities are safe in the face of unabated Islamophobia and hostility against Muslims. I call on our government to redouble its efforts to ensure mosques are protected, and call on fellow Muslims to resist the temptation to roll up the banners in fear, as this attack was designed to do.”
Islamophobic terrorist attacks are not new. In 2017, there was a shooting which saw six worshippers were killed at a mosque in Quebec, in Minnesota, USA, a mosque was firebombed.
In the UK, in the last two months alone, two mosques in Newcastle and Manchester have been attacked by vandals who spray-painted Nazi swastika symbols, Martin Stokes of North London was sentenced to 5 years in jail for intentionally driving into a crowd of worshippers exiting a mosque, and last October the Home Office reported that religious hate crime rocketed by 40 per cent across England and Wales in just one year, with more than half targeted at Muslims.
We ask the UK Government:
1. To re-open the Places of Worship Security Fund run by the Home Office with funding available proportionate to the risk Muslim communities face. We note that it is currently closed, has been since August 2018 and is not open for further applications at present. We ask why it is not open on a continual basis in similarity to other faith groups, when it will re-open and what it is doing today to allay the concerns of the British Muslim and other minority communities about the risk posed to them from far-right hate crime?
2. With Britain about to leave the European Union (EU), we ask what the UK Government is doing to tackle the potential rise in far-right attacks against British Muslims and other minority communities, as was seen just after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, including the murder of West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox by 52-year-old Thomas Mair, who the Judge when sentencing him to life in prison, said he was motivated by “admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic white supremacist creeds.”
3. Last November, the APPG on British Muslims published a definition of Islamophobia, based on an extensive consultations and hundreds of case studies. We ask why the UK Government has not taken the recommendations of the APPG seriously, and when it will formally adopt a definition of Islamophobia?