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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Muslims fear retaliation attacks
Worshippers outside Birmingham Central Mosque
Muslims turned out in force for Fridays prayers
Muslims across England have expressed fears they could be the victims of a backlash to the London bombings.

They fear there will be a repeat of attacks on mosques and individuals which followed September 11.

Faith leaders quickly condemned the incident, holding special meetings and urging people to continue as normal.

But within hours of the attack a group in Bristol received abusive comments on its answering machine and on Friday a Leeds mosque was targeted by arsonists.

Attendance was up at Friday prayers at Birmingham Central Mosque but many worshippers were concerned others would not distance them from what happened in London.

'Persecuting us'

Mahmood Hussain, 50, said he feared for the whole community.

"It does stress me," he said. "I hope it will not happen here."

Jamal Ahmed
Jamal Ahmed says Islam itself has been targeted

Thirteen-year-old Humza Chaudry, who experienced verbal abuse after the US attacks, called on non-Muslims to learn more about Islam.

"I fear that soon it is going to get so bad and al-Qaeda will make Muslims look so bad that people who aren't Muslim are going to start persecuting us.

"It is not Islam at all. I have read up on it and I fear those who do abuse us don't understand, it is not necessarily racism."

Jamal Ahmed, 35, from Kings Heath in Birmingham, said he was expecting a negative reaction to his preaching on Friday afternoon.

He said he had already witnessed people staring at a Muslim girl wearing traditional Islamic dress as he travelled on a bus in the city.

"People are just assuming, they don't really know who did it," he said.

Policeman on bike outside Birmingham Central Mosque
West Midlands Police are patrolling in prime public locations

Officers were keeping a low profile at the mosque, two officers on bicycles turned up for several minutes, but across the country forces have committed to stepping up patrols in Muslim areas.

West Midlands Police said it wanted to make sure that communities, locations or individuals would not become a target as a result of the events in London.

'Society is strong'

"Hate crime will not be tolerated and we will take robust action if required," a spokesman said.

In Kent, more officers are being sent to various locations to control racial tensions.

In Leicester, Manzoor Mogul, chairman of the Muslim Forum in the Midlands, said he hoped by reassuring people they would not be provoked.

"My message is that because of our strong race relations history in this area we can be strong and withstand any ugly incidents - the fabric of our society is strong despite these atrocious attacks in London," he said.

It must be the determination of us all to make sure that we are not divided as people
Ikram Ali, Muslim Welfare Association in Kent

However, Ikram Ali, a spokesman for the Muslim Welfare Association in Kent, said incidents of race crime could tear their multicultural society apart.

"Obviously we have had experience of these types of things in the past. These evil deeds make victims of us all," he said.

"It must be the determination of us all to make sure that we are not divided as people."

A similar atmosphere to post-September 11 was already being reported by the Muslim community in Derby.

Shokat Lal from Derby's Pakistani Community Centre, said: "There is a real worry in the community that this willheighten tensions andpeople will jump to unnecessary conclusions andmake false assumptions,particularly about the Muslim community."

In Bradford, Dr Abdul Barry Malik from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association said no minority group should be made a scapegoat.

"Years ago when we had some attacks on British cities by Irish terrorists we didn't blame the Christians as a whole or the Roman Catholics," he said.

"We should not blame all the Muslim communities."



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