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Hacking Death Of U.K. Soldier Prompts Anti-Muslim Attacks

A supporter of the far-right English Defense League gestures near Downing Street in central London on Monday.
Leon Neal
AFP/Getty Images
A supporter of the far-right English Defense League gestures near Downing Street in central London on Monday.

There's been a sharp rise in anti-Muslim attacks and intimidation in the U.K. since last week's hacking death of British soldier Lee Rigby by two men who said they killed him in the name of Islam.

The Guardian newspaper says that Tell Mama, a hotline for reporting such attacks, registered 193 incidents by Monday evening, including 10 attacks on mosques.

According to The Guardian:

"In Grimsby on Tuesday, two men reported to be former soldiers were remanded in custody at the town's magistrates court after a mosque was petrol bombed. Stuart Harness, 33, and Gavin Humphries, 37, were charged with arson with intent to endanger life. No pleas were entered and the pair are due to appear at Grimsby crown court next month.

"The Tell Mama co-coordinator, Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, said he feared there would be an escalation in attacks on Muslim communities in the weeks and months ahead.

" 'These things are cumulative and I do not see an end to this cycle of violence,' said Mughal. 'There is an underlying Islamophobia in our society and the horrendous events in Woolwich have brought this to the fore and inflamed the situation.' "

Over the weekend, the right-wing extremist English Defense League staged a protest against Rigby's killing that erupted into violence and resulted in the arrest of 13 demonstrators.

Reuters reports that the family of a one of the suspects, who was shot and wounded by police responding to the attack on Rigby, condemned the soldier's killing:

"In their first public remarks since the attack on Wednesday, relatives of one of the suspects, Michael Adebolajo, 28, a British-born convert from a Christian Nigerian immigrant family, said they felt ashamed and horrified.

" 'Nothing we say can undo the events of last week,' the family said in a statement. 'However, as a family, we wish to share with others our horror at the senseless killing of Lee Rigby and express our profound shame and distress that this has brought on our family.' "

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.