Neighbourhood watch group Shomrin has offered “unprecedented” help in protecting a Hackney mosque and community centre following a meeting with Muslim leaders, writes Zak Bentley.
The scheme, orchestrated by Jewish Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Sharer, was put forward in a meeting with community elders at the Cazenove Road mosque.
It will see the Jewish volunteers commit to patrol mosques in Stoke Newington and train members of the Muslim community in security matters.
“There is quite a bit of concern in the area regarding possible random attacks on Muslim properties,” said Sharer. Commenting on the initiative, he added: “We have been friends for years and it seemed like the natural thing to do.”
Amid ethnic tensions following the brutal killing of a British soldier near his Woolwich barracks, Sharer said: “This is a very serious situation. We wanted to see if we could offer them protection and security lessons.”
At the meeting – attended by Councillors Dawood Akhoon and Abraham Jacobson – Sharer revealed that “everyone got on like a house on fire”.
He added: “They agreed to co-operate. So when Shomrin go out on patrol, they will now go past several mosques to check they are fine. We have also given out our number so people can call us if they need to.”
Volunteers are trained to track and detain suspects until police arrive and the group runs a 24-hour hotline for people to report incidents, such as anti-Semitic abuse.
At a follow-up meeting, Shomrin discussed the details of how they could train members of the Muslim community in security matters.
Chaim Hochauser, one of two Shomrim community leaders, called the cooperation “unprecedented” and said he hoped it would be the beginning of a long-term partnership between the two communities.