Security tightened around mosques in UK, Sadiq Khan in 24-hour police protection


LONDON: Security arrangements have been tightened around mosques especially during night prayers in Britain as threatening incidents have taken place even the London mayor Sadiq Khan has police protection after social media threats.

Nowadays, the mosques are full of worshippers especially in night when special prayer ‘Taraweeh’ is being offered in particular holy month of Ramazan. Pakistan origin Mr Khan, who was MP for Tooting before defeating Zac Goldsmith to succeed Boris Johnson as mayor, said levels of abuse had risen since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The Times reported that City Hall referred 17 cases to the police in a three-month period last year and 237 threats were made on social media. Mr Khan told the paper’s magazine that the abuse had gone from “name-calling, trolling and threats to terrorism”.

He said: “It can’t be right that one of the consequences of me being the mayor of London and a Muslim in public life is that I have police protection. “The referendum campaign allowed things to come to the surface and normalised things that should not be normalised.”

The Labour politician said there had been a rise in Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia, but that he did not place the blame for this at the door of Leavers. However, he said: “It starts with name-calling, it can lead to criminal damage and graffiti (and) ultimately to the situation where Jo Cox is murdered or a terrorist can come to London and try to divide communities.”

Meanwhile, a gun was fired outside a mosque in east London during Ramadan prayers. Police were called to reports of a “masked” man with a firearm entering the Seven Kings Masjid in Ilford at 22:45 BST on Thursday. Worshippers ushered him out of the building and a gunshot – thought to have come from a “blank-firing handgun” – was then heard.

No injuries or damage were caused, the Met said, and it did not believe it was terrorism-related. Scotland Yard said it believed it stemmed from an earlier incident in a street close to the mosque off High Road. “Officers will continue to work closely with representatives from the mosque and are providing reassurance to the local community.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was relieved nobody was injured in the incident. “I am  in close contact with the Police Commissioner about this incident at Seven Kings Mosque, and relieved to hear that nobody was injured. Everyone should be free to practice their faith free from danger and fear. An increased police presence remains on the scene”.

In a statement shared by a Muslim Council spokesman on Twitter, the mosque’s imam Mufti Suhail said the suspect’s motives had not been established. He asked that people “avoid speculating and circulating unconfirmed information”.