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The New Arab

UK police investigating far-right attempts to blame Muslims for coronavirus spread

UK mosques have remained closed as part of the country's coronavirus lockdown [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2020

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UK counter-terrorism police are monitoring attempts by far-right groups to stir anger against the country's Muslim population amid the coronavirus pandemic.
British counter-terrorism police are investigating reports about far-right groups attempting to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, The New Arab reported that videos are being circulated online falsely claiming that British-Muslims were endangering public safety by attending mosque despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have become aware that this is being used as an opportunity by right-wing groups to point the blame at some ethnic groups," David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

"It does not take a lot for these things to break down and for tensions to arise in these communities. It’s something we are monitoring very closely," Jamieson said. Counter-terrorism police are looking into reports, he added.

Last month, a video clip showing crowds of Muslim men praying outside a Mosque in London was shared online by far-right groups, falsely claiming they were violating the coronavirus lockdown order.

The video, which was shot before the coronavirus outbreak began, showed a group of Muslim men praying outside Wembley Central Masjid in close proximity of one another. The accounts falsely claimed the film was taken during the epidemic.

Despite being taken out of context, the clip still stirred anger on Twitter. One user falsely claimed that the Muslims had gathered on the streets after their mosque was closed due to the epidemic. "Look at their arrogance!" he added

Another said that congregations are not allowed and that police had failed to disperse them, while a third repeated racist tropes calling for "mass deportation".

The clip was later reported to Twitter, which removed the tweet and placed restrictions on the account.

Similar videos have been shared by prominent UK far-right figures.

Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League far-right group, shared a video on Telegram that purportedly showed British Muslims exiting a "secret mosque" in central England.

West Midlands Police have dismissed the claims, according to The Guardian.

Right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins and former United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Gerard Batten have also shared similar content in recent weeks.

Batten, who once described Islam as a "death cult", suggested that the UK's government would be "too scared" to close mosques in a tweet which went viral.

UK mosques have remained closed since the government ordered places of worship to shut their doors on 23 March. Days before this order, many mosques had already shuttered in line with guidance from the Muslim Council of Britain.

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