More than 700 people were evacuated from East London Mosque following a "credible" bomb threat, amid a rise in Islamophobia in the UK.
The mosque - one of the largest in the country - in Whitechapel was sent an anonymous email that claimed a bomb had been placed in the mosque minutes earlier. It immediately sounded the alarm, prompting an estimated 700 people, including three nearby schools, had to be evacuated.
Police attended at 3:02 pm and carried out a sweep. In a statement, the mosque said: “The East London Mosque received a credible threat this afternoon, leading to a swift and safe evacuation under the instruction of local police officers.”
The mosque has doubled its security since the threat and reassured the community. A spokesperson for the mosque told Yahoo News the community was ‘resilient’. Fridays are a religious day for Muslims, and the mosque expects thousands to attend, while a sermon has been read to worshippers today about rising islamophobia and how to be vigilant.
Since the recent escalation in the conflict between Gaza and Israel, there has been an increase in incidents of Islamophobia, and the mosque has had a heightened police presence. Following the incident, the Maghreb call to prayer was missed for the first time in its 37-year history.
— ابو نيوز (@un121) December 7, 2023
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Within an hour of the threat to East London Mosque, an Islamic primary school miles away received a handwritten letter addressed to ‘paedophiles’ and signed by ‘your terrorist friend’. Apex Primary School, in Ilford, received the letter at 3 pm on Thursday.
In the letter, the author said they wished 'Israel bombed more of those filthy rascals'. They wrote: “You deserve to die. But don’t worry your surprise will come to you on Friday 8th of December.” The letter went on to say that a bomb would explode at 9 am.
The primary school said they said it was grateful for the response from authorities, but added in a lengthy statement that it was concerned about ‘the future and long term solution to address these issues’. The headteacher said this isn’t the first time the school has received a threat of this nature.
Apex Primary School said: “Regrettably, this is not the first instance of such threats targeting our school, and it is disheartening to acknowledge that it may not be the last unless decisive measures are taken.”
This was received by a local Muslim school today:
(Yes the matter has been referred to police) pic.twitter.com/XnhQLop2En
— UmmTypo (@ummTypo) December 7, 2023
The police are investigating the threat in hopes of identifying the sender. The Metropolitan police said: “We are aware of social media posts about a threatening letter that was sent to a school in Ilford. Officers have been in touch with staff at the school to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.”
The Muslim Association of Britain said it is ‘deeply disturbed’ by both threats, adding that there has been a 600% rise in Islamophobia in recent months.
In a statement, the association said: "Every politician enabling this climate of dehumanisation and securitisation of Muslims is accountable for the rise in recent attacks against our children and places of worship.”