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The fear of a backlash in the wake of the Woolwich attack is real among communities – but no-one has come forward to ease public concerns, writes Simon Israel.
I was in my local dentist in north London, about to be punished for my lack of dental care.
A Jewish woman with her young son were trying to fix up another appointment.
Her mobile rings and her first words were: “Did you hear about the attack on the Islamic centre? What do you think we should do?”
There was urgency in her voice. She was worried, not about the Muslim community but about hers. Why? Because of the feared domino effect of a backlash.
The fear is real. It may not be mirrored in a real threat but that no longer matters.
For the last week we in the media have argued over anti-Muslim crime figures.
The authorities – either government departments or police forces – were not exactly forthcoming.
They worried about data accuracy, while communities worried about their security.
There was no public voice of reassurance. Why? Because it seems they too were afraid.
Individual police forces played everything down when we rang to ask if we could see the stated increase in high-visibility policing.
Perhaps they believed their own figures told the story. It was tailing off after day day one of Woolwich, so why stoke the embers?
The problem, then, is when it happens, the communities shout: “Where were you?”
The Muslim Council of Britain last night said just that, and so, in effect, did the mother in the dentist.