Tony Parsons column “Anti-Muslim backlash” has been grotesquely exaggerated: Britain remains peaceful and tolerant

A quick look at the headlines and you would be forgiven for thinking that our country is on the edge of civil war.

A mosque is burned to the ground in London. The RAF Bomber Command War Memorial has been vandalised yet again.

And a Government-funded project reports “a wave of attacks, harassment and hate-filled speech against Muslims”.

Tensions, it would seem, are at boiling point.

But take a more careful, thoughtful look at those same headlines and a completely different picture begins to emerge.

The mosque becomes an IT centre that also contained a place for Muslim children to study and pray.

The Bomber Command war memorial was ­desecrated by illiterate morons who can’t even spell the word “should” – let alone start a race war.

And the reports of numerous attacks on Muslims are grotesquely exaggerated.

Britain is emphatically not on the brink of civil war.

The victim of Lee Rigby’s murder is not the Muslim community. The victim of Lee Rigby’s murder is Lee Rigby.



The arson in Muswell Hill, North London, was – to quote Mayor Boris Johnson – “cowardly, pathetic and pointless”.

But it was an attack on everyone in that peaceful community.

That is why leaders of all faiths – including the local rabbi – were quickly on the scene.

The “mosque” the idiots burned down was actually the Bravanese Community Centre, a two-storey building mostly used as an IT training centre for members of the Somalian community.

Yes, the building contains the Al-Rahma Islamic centre, which is indeed listed as a mosque, and was used by Muslim children for prayer and religious studies.

But it looks like ­a ­community centre to me.

And what about the desecration of our war memorials?

Some fool wrote “ISLAM” on the Bomber Command memorial after Lee Rigby was killed.

Now some other fool has daubed “LEE RIGBY KILLERS SHUD HANG”.


Sorry, but I just can’t believe that our democracy is under threat from some swivel-eyed fool who spells as badly as that – a fool who is so stupid that he believes he makes his point by desecrating a memorial to men who died for our freedom.

The reports of anti-Muslim attacks are truly shocking.

Can it really be true that all over Britain, innocent men and women are being attacked because of their faith?

The short answer is – no. It is not true.

An anti-racism project called MAMA – monitoring anti-Muslim attacks – has received £214,000 from the ­Department for Communities and Local ­Government to monitor what Nick Clegg calls “vile attacks” on Muslims.

This same MAMA – which would of course be out of business without rampant anti-Muslim feeling, – reported hundreds of attacks on Muslims after Woolwich.

These were unthinkingly accepted by a docile media – including BBC Radio 4’s ­flagship Today show – as the gospel truth.


But the truth is slightly different. MAMA bashfully confirmed that over half (57%) of the 212 reported “anti-Muslim attacks” were online.

I am sorry, but some cretin foaming at the mouth on Twitter or Facebook is simply not the same as having someone stick a bottle through your window, or attack you in the street.

There is not a civil war in this country. The “anti-Muslim backlash” is somewhere between a grotesque exaggeration and a plain old lie.

The British are a civilised, polite, tolerant people – and even after the hideous murder of young Lee Rigby, that is what we remain.

Let’s keep it that way by cracking down on the preachers of hate. Men like Anjem Choudary and the ­congenital losers he attracts.

Choudary has his bottom wiped by the welfare state so that he can inform us that Lee Rigby will, “burn in hell fire”.

Our problem is that we are frequently too tolerant. We insult everything we stand for by indulging sponging fanatics like Anjem Choudary.

If you want the English Defence League and the far right to vanish overnight, then silence the preachers of hatred.

Kick them out of a country they despise. And stop their benefits.

That would hurt them more than hell-fire, these fanatics who preach “death to the infidels – but only after I have had my benefits”.

The day after the Muswell Hill community centre burned down, I saw two women in full Burkhas – the head-to-toe black cloak that a tiny minority of Muslim women wear – walking in the sunshine outside Selfridge’s.

They looked like Batman and Batman.

Were they harassed? Were they abused? Were they blamed for the hideous crimes done by madmen in the name of their religion?

No. No. No.

In the blazing summer sunshine of London, the tolerant British people never gave them a second glance.