The attack near Finsbury Park mosque follows warnings of an unprecedented anti-Muslim backlash that has followed recent terrorist atrocities.
Police in London recorded a spike in the number of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the London Bridge outrage earlier this month, with 20 recorded on June 6 – compared with a daily average of 3.5.
This marked the highest daily tally for 2017, and was higher than the numbers registered after the Paris attacks in November 2015, and the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013.
In a speech last week, a former police chief warned that anti-Muslim sentiment online has been “relentless” following the London Bridge attack on June 3.
Mak Chishty, an ex-Metropolitan Police commander who had been the country’s most senior Muslim officer before his retirement, said: “The backlash has been something of a different scale.”
— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) June 19, 2017
While the circumstances and suspected motivations behind the Finsbury Park incident are yet to be made clear, it comes amid mounting concern over far-right extremism in the UK.
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Warnings that the threat could be growing were raised after the conviction of Thomas Mair for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year.
Brendan Cox, widower of the murdered MP, warned today that far-right extremists and islamic extremists should be subject to the same treatment, and those encouraging acts of islamophobia should be sought out.
Writing on Twitter, he said: ‘Far right fascists and Islamist terrorists are driven by same hatred of difference, same ideology of supremacy and use same tactics. We’ll defeat both.
‘When Islamist terrorists attack we rightly seek out hate preachers who spur them on. We must do the same to those who peddle Islamophobia.’
The Government’s Prevent and Channel programmes, which work to intervene before individuals are drawn into violent extremism, have seen a rise in the number of referrals linked to far-right ideology.
Counter-terrorism police have said that, while the threat is not of the same gravity as that posed by Islamic State or al Qaida, there are extreme right-wing groups attempting to provoke violence and sow discord.