LONDON: Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick has said that the recent terror attacks in London have affected Muslims in the same manner as all other citizens of the city and terrorists do not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims in their attacks.
Dick said the targeting of Londoners on the basis of their faith was unacceptable.
“An attack in London is an attack on all of us. I understand Muslim communities are feeling shattered and there are concerns within the community that it may find itself as a target of hate crimes,” said the senior police official.
“What I will say to the Muslim communities is that we must all stand up in the face of terrorists. The London Metropolitan Police are here to work with Muslims, to protect them and to work with them to stop crimes. If you are a target, we will work hard to protect you. If you are suspicious of anybody and have anything and find yourself a victim of crime contact us and we will support you.”
Figures have shown a fivefold increase in the number of Islamophobic attacks since the attack at London Bridge and a 40 per cent increase in racists incidents.
The police chief has said that hate crimes have a tradition of spiking after terror attacks and added that the majority of hate crimes have been limited to verbal abuse.
“Although there has been an increase, but to put it in perspective it’s a small handful each day in our boroughs, may be three or four per day in each borough currently – and each borough is a size of a very large city,” said Commissioner Cressida Dick.
She elaborated further and said the aim of the terrorists is to create a split in society and pitch communities against each other.
“The terrorists seek to divide us and we must not let them do that. London is a fantastic, diverse, integrated city and that that’s the way it needs to continue.”
When asked if hijab-wearing, bearded Muslims or those from South Asia or Arab countries could be more vulnerable to attacks, the London police chief said, “Sadly, there are people who will look at how some people appear and abuse them, we have had that in the past and we have had that on this occasion”.
She added that hate crimes are not limited to just people of the Muslim faith, but also against those that may be perceived as from the Muslim faith.
“There is a wide variety of crimes which appear to be motivated by hatred, religion or race.”
The commissioner further said that the nature of terror threats have changed completely and the police needs to adapt to new tactics to deal with the emerging challenges.
“Two decades ago in London, we still faced the threat of terrorism and we have had the same level of threat for decades, but it was a different sort of threat and a different phenomenon. We are very used to this in the UK. We have fantastic policemen, fantastic intelligence agencies and great capability to keep people safe. In the coming weeks and months, we will be doing everything to keep London safe.”
She also said that the chances of an average Londoner becoming victim of a hate crime are “very low” but “we will take them seriously and we will always seek to arrest people and bring them to justice if we possibly can”.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner denied that there was an intelligence failure leading up to last Saturday’s London Bridge attack.
“Every bit of information is taken seriously.”
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily