Norwich Muslim community feels well supported - despite recent hate crimes
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Members of a Norwich mosque say they feel "very supported" by the wider community - despite a recent spate of racist incidents in the city.
The comments come after an increase in tensions between Israel and Palestine last month, which according to anti-racism charities helped fuel an increase in religious hate crime.
On May 14, members of the Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue on Essex Street arrived to find a swastika daubed on its door.
On May 15, Islamophobic graffiti was sprayed in yellow paint on the pavement close to Norwich Central Mosque and Islamic Community Centre on Aylsham Road.
However 52-year-old Sirajul Islam, the mosque's secretary, said his community feels "separated" from events abroad - and that he'd like to think people in Norwich are able to make the same distinction.
He said: "It's difficult to comment on how much what happens elsewhere affects what people think here.
"Twice in the last two months we've had incidents of racist graffiti at the Mosque, and the year before we had an arson attack.
"But those responsible make up a very small minority of ignorant people.
"Muslims here have nothing to do with what's happened or happening in the Middle East. We feel separated from that.
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"This is our home, and we have a great relationship with our neighbours."
Tell MAMA - an Islamophobic monitoring group - recorded 56 anti-Muslim incidents between May 8 and May 17 nationally, while the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism, recorded 116 incidents between May 8 and May 19 - compared respectively to 13 and 19 the week before.
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Mr Islam said: "The problem is that people are getting so much information through social media about what's happening in the world, and they react to it at home.
"But generally, we've seen an outpouring of support recently. We've been out protesting against the regime in Israel with people from all walks of life.
"There are still Islamophobic incidents, and each one is one too many, but on the whole I'd say our community feels very welcome."
Norwich Central Mosque trustee and Costessey town councillor Iftekhar Alam, 45, said: "There will always be some people who refuse to be educated.
"At our old mosque on Rose Lane we used to get people breaking windows and throwing stones at us.
"Those things do make us worried, but ultimately people are very friendly here."