Police investigating UK far-right groups
Counter terrorism police are investigating far-right groups accused of trying to use the coronavirus crisis to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment.
The monitoring group Tell Mama said that it recorded dozens of incidents of far-right groups allegedly trying to put blame on British Muslims for the spread of the virus last month, including false claims that Muslims were breaching the lockdown by continuing to attend mosques to pray. There were also incidents where Muslims were attacked.
For example West Midlands Police has had to dismiss images allegedly showing Muslims attending Friday prayers, pointing out they were taken before the lockdown was announced. Shropshire Police have had to debunk similar claims.
High-profile accounts linked to spreading malicious rumours against Muslims have included those of Katie Hopkins and the former UKIP leader Gerard Batten.
Iman Atta, the director of Tell Mama, said: “These extremists are using coronavirus to get their pervasive message across that somehow the Muslim communities are to blame for the spreading of the virus. It is mainly repeat offenders – individuals who are already known to hold anti-Muslim views – who are repeatedly seeing this as a way to cause community turmoil and tension. It is at times like this when there are pressures in society that some people manipulate this to fuel hate and division across communities.”