EXCL: MPs pile pressure on Sajid Javid to hike mosque security ahead of Ramadan
A cross-party group of nearly 100 MPs have called on Sajid Javid to do more to protect mosques from attacks ahead of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
The demand to the Home Secretary comes four weeks ahead of the high-profile religious period, and amid fears that Muslim communities could be targeted following last month's terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In the joint call, MPs urge the Home Office to speed up the release of an extra £1.6 million pledged by the Government after the attack - but which is not currently due to kick in until next year.
Labour MP Kate Green, who co-ordinated the action, said that ministers needed to act now in the face of rising Islamophobia and hate crime.
She told PoliticsHome: “The Government is not being very creative and flexible about what is a very legitimate concern…
“They [Muslim leaders] are not confident the kind of security measures that have been put in place so far are sufficient to deal with that kind of situation.”
The letter includes signatories such as Conservative MP Nicky Morgan and British Muslims All-Party Parliamentary Group chair Anna Soubry.
It says: “We write as members representing our Muslim constituents to urge the early release of the very welcome additional funding you have announced for security at places of worship.
“Following the appalling attack in Christchurch last month, we have been speaking to our local mosques, and they are understandably extremely concerned about security, particularly with the approach of the Holy Month of Ramadan, when the community will be highly visible…
“While the new funding will make a difference, it is therefore imperative that it is released as a matter of urgency, and that application processes are kept as simple and clear as possible, in order that measures can be taken to improve security in good time before Ramadan.”
Last month Sajid Javid said he was “committed to acting quickly in response" to concerns about the safety of places of worship.
But Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan, who has put his name to the rallying call, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Government was not taking the issue seriously.
Mr Khan told PoliticsHome: “Following my PMQ on the issue of Islamophobia, it was announced the Home Secretary will be providing additional funding for security at places of worship.
“The noticeable spike in hate crimes towards Muslims, means that the safety of Muslims across the country is crucial.
“In Manchester alone, there are 70 mosques and with Ramadan fast approaching this funding will be vital, to ensure that the abhorrent acts in Christchurch are not replicated.
“It is simply not good enough to provide reassurances. Action has to be taken now.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is vital that all faiths feel protected, safe and secure in the UK.
“That is why we have committed £2.4 million over the last 3 years through our Places of Worship Protective Security Fund and why we have increased the funding for 2019-20 to £1.6 million.
“More than a third of the funding awarded has gone to mosques and we will consult communities on what more can be done to protect places of worship.”
They added the department is working to open the 2019-20 scheme for applications "as a matter of urgency".