Finsbury Park Mosque leader calls to end "disease" of Islamophobia
PUBLISHED: 14:00 09 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:54 10 September 2015
A top Muslim leader has a called for community cohesion to tackle the "disease" of Islamophobia.
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, has urged members of the Muslim community and the police to work together to put an end to Islamophobic crimes.
Islington is the London borough with the second highest number of Islamophobic crimes reported in the past year. The number of these crimes has increased by almost a third from the previous year.
Mr Kozbar, who joined the St Thomas’s Road mosque in 2005, commented on the shocking number of women who are targeted in Islamophobic attacks. Women make up 60 per cent of victims according to Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors hate crimes targeted at Muslims.
He said: “It is worrying because it is targeted at the most vulnerable people, women, and this is really very concerning, if this is the case. We don’t want to end up with someone who gets killed.
“We always said that there is an increase in Islamophobic crimes. There have been a lot of attacks on individuals and institutions like our mosque. It is a significant increase of 70 per cent.”
To tackle the growing issues, Mr Kozbar said: “We really have to work hard, and this is all of us, it is a collective responsibility. The Muslim community need to show that we are part of the solution, not the problem and that we contribute to society in a positive way.
“Every year, twice a year, we have a neighbourhood open day, we have a project to feed the homeless and recently we held a talk on environmental change.
“Unfortunately the media often links crimes such as grooming to our religion and this has a negative impact on our community.”
According to the Met Police statistics there were 478 reported Islamophobic offences in the 12 months preceding July 2014 and there have been 816 offences for the following 12 months to July 2015, meaning a 70 per cent increase.
Commander Mak Chishty, the Met Police’s hate crime lead, said: “We will not tolerate hate crime and take positive action to investigate all allegations, support victims and arrest offenders.
“We are always seeking ways to increase reporting and work with a number of third party reporting sites, such as the CST, so that victims who feel unable to approach police direct can report crime to non-police organisations and individuals. Victims of hate crime can in addition now report online on the Met’s website.
“No one should suffer in silence, so please report hate crime to us as soon as possible so we can act.”