Muslims in Chesterfield have described how they have suffered an increase in Islamophobic abuse after the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.
Two white males who were convicted of being racially abusive on Cavendish Street in the town centre claimed they had been “angered” by the death of Lee Rigby who was murdered in Woolwich, south east London on May 22.
Chesterfield magistrates court heard witness accounts of how Peter Levers, 33, of Circular Road, Staveley shouted: “Muslims, I’ll kill them all.” And in a separate case involving Mark Carr, 41, of Holme Road, Chesterfield, two Muslim women were bombarded with an array of Islamophobic abuse and obscenities during an incident where the comment “go back to your own country” was overheard by a pedestrian.
A spokesman for Chesterfield Muslim Welfare Association who wanted to remain anonymous for personal safety said: “The issue seems to have been about Woolwich which has affected the Muslim community. Some groups have latched on to it and used it for their twisted purposes, and the Chesterfield Muslim community is suffering with abuse, but we try and get on with our lives.”
Mr Carr, who was a former Navy serviceman, racially insulted two Muslim women, one of them who had children with her in Chesterfield town centre and was ordered on July 25 to pay £1,000 in compensation.
The court heard how the 41 year-old had been drinking before abusing the women on May 25.
Local resident Showkat Hussain said to 5 Pillarz: “There has been an increase in anti-Muslim hate and violence in Chesterfield. Unfortunately, like many other towns and cities in the UK, Chesterfield has also seen an increase in Islamophobic attacks since the Woolwich incident.”
University student Shanaz Ali told 5 Pillarz: “I haven’t felt safe walking around Chesterfield town centre as I wear the hijaab and jilbab, and this will naturally draw more attention as I am ‘overtly’ Muslim by appearance. The recent case of two Muslim women being abused in broad day light in public is a testimony to the fact that Muslims are currently going through a very difficult and tense time.”
Prosecuting solicitor Becky Mahon said one of the women had children in a double buggy. Carr pleaded guilty to using racially aggravated threatening behaviour and causing racially aggravated distress.
Matt Evans, defending, said Carr is remorseful and does not hold extremist views. Carr was given a 12 month community order with 120 hours unpaid work and also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
During a previous case, the court heard on June 24 how Levers was caught by police shouting at a taxi driver, “Muslims, I’ll kill them all,” for which he was fined £120.
Levers had been out drinking for around 16 hours before the incident in the early hours of May 24. He pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment.
Defence solicitor Bob Bashforth told the court Lee Rigby was in Levers’ mind and in his drunken state “it came to the surface.”
He was ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £80 costs.
Woolwich murder and Islamophobia
Since the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby on May 22 in Woolwich south east London, Islamophobic attacks have increased across Britain. Numerous mosques and Islamic centres have been fire bombed and targeted with bombs.
A mosque in Braintree, Essex and Gillingham, Kent was attacked on the evening of the Woolwich murder. A mosque in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was fire bombed within days of the of the Woolwich incident. Al Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, North London was torched to the ground with “EDL” painted on its walls. Darul Uloom in Chislehurst, Greater London was also set on fire weeks after the Woolwich attack.
A Muslim cemetery was desecrated with Islamophobic graffiti in Newport, Wales in June and an Islamic centre in Kirkcaldy, Scotland was also vandalised the night before the start of Ramadan.
A bomb was left at Aisha Mosque in Walsall on June 21 and at Kanz ul-Iman Jamia Mosque in Tipton on July 12 just after jummah prayers. Wolverhampton Central Mosque was also evacuated on July 18 after an explosive device was discovered next to the building.
Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on July 23 accused of stabbing Mohammed Saleem, 82, to death in Small Heath, Birmingham and preparing terrorism acts against three mosques in the West Midlands.