Murders sparked backlash attacks

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News that a British soldier had been brutally killed by two Muslim extremists sparked an anti-Islamic backlash and a rise in the profile of far-right campaigners in the days after Lee Rigby's death.

Attacks were staged on mosques and there was a surge in online abuse after the news that two fanatics had picked out a serviceman in the street, run him over and then hacked him to death.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said 71 incidents were reported to its national community tension team (NCTT) over five days after Drummer Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, south east London, on May 22.

Tell Mama, the charity which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it received more than 150 reports of anti-Muslim activity in the days after the father-of-one died, compared with an average of four to eight incidents a day beforehand.

Britain's most senior police officer Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe also revealed that the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims in London rose from one to eight per day in the wake of the killing.

The incidents included arson attacks at an Islamic centre in Grimsby, and a Muslim community centre and boarding school in different parts of London. Police across the country also made a number of arrests over alleged malicious comments on social networking sites.

In London the first arson attack was at the Bravanese Community Centre in Muswell Hill which was burned to the ground on June 5. The building was found to have been daubed with the letters EDL, but far-right group the English Defence League denied any involvement.

The second targeted Darul Uloom Islamic School in Foxbury Avenue, Chislehurst, south east London, where nearly 130 pupils and staff had to be evacuated. Teachers managed to extinguish the flames and two pupils were treated for smoke inhalation but did not need to be taken to hospital.

Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was hit with petrol bombs on May 26, and no one was hurt in the blaze.

The EDL also moved into the spotlight in the aftermath of the murder when then-leader Tommy Robinson was filmed making heated comments as members of the far-right group gathered near the scene within hours of Fusilier Rigby's death.

Robinson was filmed shouting: "Enough's enough. Our message is enough's enough. We have weak leaders, weak police. Our police, our leaders tiptoe around this issue. This issue is political Islam. It's political Islam that is spreading across this country."

The group said it was trying to raise money for servicemen in the aftermath of the death, but the Help for Heroes said it would not accept any donations from Mr Robinson or the EDL.

In the following weeks the police stopped marches by the EDL and the British National Party from passing near the scene of the murder in a bid to avoid inflaming community tensions.

Since then Robinson and his deputy Kevin Carroll have both quit the group.

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