Muslim Londoners defiant after terrifying rise in acid attacks

London's Muslims share 'how to survive acid attack' advice after terrifying rise in attacks
3 min read
03 Jul, 2017
A manhunt is underway, with police looking for John Tomlin in possible connection with one of a spate of acid attacks against London's Muslim community in recent days.
Manhunt: John Tomlin is wanted in connection with one acid attack [Photo: Metropolitan Police]
A series of acid attacks have fuelled fears and sparked defiance among Britain's Muslim communities, in what has been described as a rising trend at a time of increased Islamophobia.

A steady stream of alarming reports has emerged on social media, often posted by friends and families of victims targeted by attackers attempting to chemically burn their victims.

Several of the attacks have been covered as isolated incidents by Britain's press, but authorities have yet to release any statement on what appears to be a disturbing trend.

The attacks have prompted outrage among Muslims in Britain, with messages warning individuals to be vigilant going viral across social media platforms, with several advising potential victims on what do to in the case of an acid attack.

The offensive appears to have caused most concern among London's hijab-wearing women.

"I'm worried about walking to and from the underground station while on my way to work," one woman told The New Arab, while another suggested carrying some sort of protective barrier in the case of an attack.

More than 250,000 people have signed a petition urging the government to impose tougher laws on the purchasing of acid, after one case involving a female and male cousin hit the headlines last week after going viral on Twitter.

"Acid attacks have become too common, the Home Office needs to do something to bring it under control," the petition reads. "It is a disgusting criminal act."

"We need licensing laws now to deter this from happening. Right now, anyone can buy it easily from any hardware store. Corrosive acids like sulphuric acid are very lethal and life damaging substances. You should only be allowed to purchase them with a licence to buy." 

But while most of the recent reports appear to show attackers targeted Muslims, one case involved a Chinese couple and their two-year-old child, who were approached by a man in Islington, north London, shortly before he threw acid at them.

In another case, Jameel Mukhtar, 37, and his 21-year-old cousin Resham Khan were attacked in London on June 21. The attack gained media attention, though authorities initially appeared to downplay the attack as a car-jacking, after the assailants stole the victims' vehicle.

Police released an image of the suspected attacker, 24-year-old John Tomlin, in a public appeal - although little else has been revealed surrounding the attackers in other cases.

But despite widespread concerns stemming from the most recent acid attacks, the cases are not new to the British capital.

The Metropolitan Police revealed that there has been a sharp rise in the number of acid attacks in London, from 261 in 2015 to 454 the following year. 

No clear motive behind the rise has been officially identified, however it is worthy to note a knife attack is classed as attempted murder in Britain - which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment - while an acid attack is normally charged as grievous bodily harm, and while sentences may also reach life imprisonment, lesser sentences are more common.

Follow Sana Uqba on Twitter: @Sanasiino