Anti-Muslim backlash on the rise after London terror attack
London: Muslim leaders in Britain have accused far-right extremists of trying to capitalise on the "sick and barbaric" murder of soldier Drummer Lee Rigby in London to fuel racial hatred.
Islamophobic hate crimes are running at more than 10 times their usual rate, with more than 140 reported to a government-backed hotline in the 48 hours since the killing in Woolwich, south-east London, on Wednesday.
In an open letter, the heads of nearly 100 mosques across the UK wrote: "The hate-fuelled individuals behind such attacks wish to polarise and tear apart our great country for their own sick ends. They should be isolated and subject to the full force of the law."
Faith Matters, which runs the Measuring anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA) helpline, said they had received 162 calls since the attack, up from a daily average of six.
"Muslims at this moment are feeling a real and pervasive sense of fear," a spokesperson for the charity said.
The far-right British National Party (BNP) leader, Nick Griffin, who visited Woolwich yesterday, provoked widespread disgust for tweeting that the alleged killers should be wrapped in "pig skin" and shot again.
The English Defence League (EDL), which has said the killing shows Britain is "at war" with Islamic extremism, staged a march today in Newcastle in protest over plans to open an Islamic school.
Thousands turned out for the march planned months ago and the group is now planning a demonstration in central London on Monday.
Meanwhile, a new poll for the 'Guardian' found that nearly two-thirds of people in the country believe there will be a "clash of civilisations" between British Muslims and white Britons in the wake of the London terror attacks by two Nigerian-descent Muslim suspects.
There has also been a small increase in the proportion of people who believe British Muslims pose a serious threat to democracy, up to 34 per cent on Thursday and Friday from 30 per cent in November 2012, according to the YouGov survey of 1,839 adults.
Since the attack, a number of people have been charged by police after allegedly offensive messages were posted on social media websites.
These include a 22-year-old man from Lincoln, a 28-year-old man from London, a 23-year-old woman from Southsea, and a 19-year-old man from Woking.
Three men two from Gateshead and one from Stockton have been arrested by Northumbria Police on suspicion of posting racist tweets.
Shortly after the killing near Woolwich barracks, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo was filmed by a passer-by saying he had carried out the attack because British soldiers killed Muslims every day. Adebolajo and a second suspect, Michael Adebowale, 22, were shot and arrested at the scene and remain in hospital.