In the week that marks the start of Islamophobia Awareness Month, Barnet Council held an initial meeting with representatives of the borough’s Muslim communities, with a view to holding a wider round table discussion soon. Participants had the opportunity to share their concerns and insights about the local issues arising from the conflict in the Middle East with the council’s leadership, as well as with the Metropolitan Police.
The Police disclosed that, sadly, there have been a number of Islamophobic hate crimes reported in the borough since the 7 October attacks. They wished to reassure that hate crimes will not be tolerated and there is now a greater visible Police presence in sensitive locations, for example outside local mosques during Friday prayers. Similarly, the council’s Community Safety team have dedicated officers patrolling the streets every day, who will be an additional point of contact for members of Muslim communities to speak with if they feel uncomfortable speaking with the Police or other agencies. Community Safety officers will be also able to advise on the range of support services available.
Barnet Council’s Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings, made clear that he does not have all of the answers to the issues our communities are facing but will work closely with our Muslim and Jewish communities to address the local challenges arising from the Middle East conflict.
He welcomed being invited to visit and meet with our Muslim communities on an ongoing basis and there was agreement across all that whatever happens in the Middle East, the events must not divide Barnet’s Muslim and Jewish communities. To live freely and safely in Barnet means working together and focusing on the things that unite us as people.
As the council develops its partnership with Muslim communities, regular meetings will be held for representatives to share their views and concerns. The council will provide written updates agreed with community leaders about the issues discussed and the commitments made to tackle the problems that are identified.