Breivik claimed to have held links with far right groups in England, and shared their opposition to Islam. But fresh research into attitudes amongst Muslims indicates that they feel the authorities have failed to take the threat of the far right seriously.
There’s also a sense that some elements of the mainstream British media have helped to foster an environment in which anti-Muslim hatred can spread.
“So here’s an example of a story about Muslims. The headline says that as a result of complaints from Muslims a swimming pool has had its windows covered for reasons of modesty. And underneath the article readers are given a chance to add their comments, and predictably they range from anger to outrage directed at Muslims for apparently trying to change British culture.
But, if you look at the very last line of the article, the reporter has been forced to include a response from the local council, who make it clear that the requests to cover the windows came from non-Muslims as well. So there’s no substance the story, but the damage is done.”
But some within the Muslim community are making efforts to build bridges on a grassroots level with wider society, bypassing the mainstream media. Projects such as Islam Awareness week reach out to non-Muslims and invite them into mosques and Islamic institutions.
The Islamic Forum of Europe is one of the organisations encouraging Muslims to pursue an active role in their local communities – whether it’s through interfaith meetings, providing food for the homeless, or cleaning up the streets.
But in the coming months the English Defence League plans to march on areas in London and the UK with significant Muslim populations. The police and authorities have generally facilitated their rallies under the pretext of freedom of speech. And although Prime Minister Cameron has ordered a security review following the terrorist attacks in Norway, it’s unclear if anything will change.
Hassan Ghani, Press TV, London