The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Face of terror in boys next door
- Blair battles backlash

London, July 13: Prime Minister Tony Blair has ordered police to prevent a backlash against British Muslims, now that the London bombers have been identified as young men of Pakistani origin.

Muslims are not the only targets. There has been an attempt to firebomb a gurdwara.

The Prime Minister said in his appeal: “I would ask for the same measured and calm response from the country that has characterised it since last Thursday. This is a small group of extremists. Not one that can be ignored, because of the danger they pose. But neither should it define Muslims in Britain who are overwhelmingly law-abiding decent members of our society.”

He has been joined in the appeal by the Opposition Conservative Party.

According to police figures, there have been nearly 100 “faith or race hate” incidents since the London bombings. On Sunday, Kamal Raza Butt, a visiting Pakistani, died in Nottingham after an apparently unprovoked assault.

Nottinghamshire police have not so far linked the incident to the London blasts and are treating it as an isolated case, though it is being investigated as a racially-aggravated attack. Six youths have been arrested.

A senior police officer, who is working to ease community tension in the wake of the atrocity, said “palpable fear” had been created by the faith hate attacks.

Rob Beckley, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said there had been a number of incidents where Muslims or people of Asian appearance had been targeted for abuse or assault.

“Since last Thursday there have been things like criminal damage, some minor assaults, abuse in the streets and email abuse,” he said.

“The fear and the impact of all these individual incidents is very high.”

Scotland Yard has vowed to deal “robustly” with the incidents, which have prompted concern in the Muslim community.

Five people were arrested on suspicion of attempting to petrol bomb a Sikh temple in Belvedere, southeast London.

In Norwich, two women, aged 26 and 23, have been released on bail after the Islamic Centre in Rose Lane was vandalised.

Home secretary Charles Clarke said he regretted the attack in Norwich.

Zaher Birawi, chairman of Leeds Grand Mosque, expressed anger and sadness that the bombers appeared to have come from the city.

“It is nothing to do with Islam at all,” he said. “The main concern in the community now is what will happen next, what is the reaction of the community. We hope there will be no more Islamophobic attacks on our community.”

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