Britain doubles mosque security funding after New Zealand attack

Muslim leaders welcomed the move but said the money was not enough

British Muslim communities are increasingly anxious after a spate of hate attacks on UK mosques over the last several years. EPA
British Muslim communities are increasingly anxious after a spate of hate attacks on UK mosques over the last several years. EPA

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has doubled funding for security in places of worship to £1.6 million for next year following the Christchurch terror attacks

After the massacre that claimed the lives of 50 people and wounded 40,, police presence was stepped up at mosques across the UK to reassure communities fearing similar attacks. A £5m fund will also be opened to provide security training at mosques and other places of worship.

While the move was welcomed by Muslim community leaders, some said it was not enough.

“This is a step forward but not enough,” Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, told The National.

“We would like the government to demonstrate equivalent support to Muslim community similar to that for the Jewish community and give reassurance to the Muslim community that they will be protected and looked after,” he added.

The money is to come via the Places of Worship fund, which was established in 2016 as part of the government’s hate crime action plan. It provides financial support for protective security such as fencing, lighting and CCTV.

East London Mosque, which serves Britain’s largest Muslim community of around 7,000, welcomed the decision but urged the authorities to follow the “excellent model” it uses to support the Jewish population.

A community security trust established to protect Jewish people in the UK is currently given £13.4m annually.

“The Government should now extend similar support to protect all vulnerable communities,” the East London Mosque said.

The government previously committed funding of £2.4m over three years. So far, more than a third of grants under the scheme have been awarded to mosques.

“The horrific events in New Zealand are a direct attack on the values of tolerance and freedom of worship that unite us all,” Mr Javid said.

“Nobody should ever fear persecution of their faith and it’s vital that we stand together to reject those who seek to spread hatred and divide us.”

On Sunday, just hours after the New Zealand mosque attack, two men in their 20s were caught on camera in London brandishing a hammer or another blunt object before attacking a worshipper near a mosque in East London.

Reports also emerged on Twitter that a group of men had been caught with flaming rags soaked in petrol outside a Muslim prayer centre in Southall, West London.

Although many Muslim communities in the UK are feeling anxious after recent attacks, Mr Javid said they “should seek comfort from knowing we are doing everything to tackle hate and extremism”.

The British government said it would also consult the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, Tell Mama, the Independent Advisory Group and other faith representatives and organisations, on improvements to existing policy to protect communities.

Tell Mama said it would provide training programmes and other support for mosques to strength safety procedures and raise threat awareness.

Updated: March 20, 2019 05:15 PM


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