One person has died and 10 have been injured when a man driving a white van ploughed into Muslims walking down the street from Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park after their night prayers.
This is one of the most prominent attacks on the Muslim community in the UK in recent memory, and it brings into question the motives of the attacker. The police have been treating the attack as a terrorist incident. The suspect, Darren Osborne, was heard by eye-witnesses to have said “I’m going to kill all Muslims – I did my bit”. This suggests that the issue of far-right extremism has now manifested and is becoming more and more dangerous.
The number of suspected far-right extremists reported to the Government’s counter-terror programme Prevent has increased by 30% in the past year. Many far-right extremists stereotype the religion of Islam as harmful to British society.
Sajda Mughal, Director of JAN Trust and 7/7 survivor has said that there should be a larger police presence outside of mosques, as well as in areas with a high percentage of Muslim residents. “What I’m hearing on the ground particularly from locals is that they’re concerned,” she tells TIME magazine.
Sajda and the charity have been targeted by far-right extremists who dislike the charity’s ethos of helping marginalised BAMER women. She has received death threats, hate mail and vandalism to her property.
JAN Trust has recorded a 31% rise in Islamophobic hate crime directed at Muslim women in 2017, compared to in 2016. Women have become the most obvious targets due to them being more visibly identifiable as Muslims.
A number of the women who contacted the JAN Trust have been telling us their experiences. Some women were victimized while carrying out their everyday activities such as taking their kids to school. As well as receiving a spike in reports from Muslim women, JAN Trust has also received increasing numbers of reports from their children.
“When Muslim women suffer, their children notice and then ask a lot of questions. I saw this in Finsbury Park yesterday – there was a lot of tension there,” Sajda tells TIME.
“We cannot let these attacks divide the community in any way because that’s exactly what they want us to do. If we do, we will be feeding into the extremist narrative both on the far-right sight of things, as well as on the Islamist extremist side of things.”