Home Secretary Sajid Javid has doubled Government funding for security at mosques and other places of worship in the wake of the New Zealand attack.
This comes after urgent calls were made this week for the government to bring security spending for UK Muslims more in line with that provided for the Jewish community in the wake of the massacre.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan addressed the issue of funds for minority communities with the Sajid Javid, urging parity in protection on Monday.
Launched in 2016, the places of worship security fund helps churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras in England and Wales to install alarms, security lighting, fencing and CCTV cameras to deter attackers.
So far, more than a third of grants have been awarded to mosques. The Government had previously committed £2.4m over three years – or £800,000 a year.
Synagogues are covered by a separate scheme, to which in February Javid announced a boost to the Government’s financial commitment to Jewish community by £600,000 – equalling £14million per year.
Announcing the financial boost for the next financial year, on Tuesday, Javid said: “The horrific events in New Zealand are a direct attack on the values of tolerance and freedom of worship that unite us all.
“Nobody should ever fear persecution of their faith and it’s vital we stand together to reject those who seek to spread hatred and divide us.
“I know many Muslim communities are feeling vulnerable and anxious. But they should seek comfort from knowing we are doing everything to tackle hate and extremism.
“That’s why we are doubling next year’s places of worship fund – providing physical protection as well as peace of mind.”
To increase uptake, the Home Office said the bidding process for the fund will be simplified so organisations no longer have to prove they have previously experienced a hate crime incident directly.
In addition, a new £5 million fund will be set up to provide protective security training for places of worship.
Tell MAMA, the leading group fighting Islamophobia in the country, is now “looking to work with groups like the CST” in developing security in the Muslim community, following the massacre of 50 people in New Zealand.
Speaking at a unity event for Christchurch at Central London Mosque on Monday, attended by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Khan said Muslim leaders he’s consulted have cautioned that additional funds are needed for Islamic places of worship. He said: “Muslims are saying, ‘Don’t take money away from synagogues and Jewish schools, but we think the same sort of support should be given to Islamic places of worship and schools’.”
Iman Attar, director of Tell MAMA, a charity which tackles anti-Muslim hatred, said it “will be providing security advice to mosques as and when they require it. That is the basis of what mosques need going forward and this does not mean large fences and barriers to divide them from communities, but subtle forms of action that can ensure the safety of staff and the mosque and help to build the confidence of staff. We are looking to work with groups like the CST in the development of this”.
The news of increased security funding was welcomed by the Board of Deputies, whose president Marie van der Zyl said: “Th0e Government should take every possible step to ensure that Muslims communities can be – and can feel – safe and secure.
“We also endorse the wider call for societal introspection about the way that we talk about Muslims, whether in the media or in our politics.
“It is clear that social media remains a source of radicalisation in various ways. While there have been improvements from the social media companies, more must be done to defeat the scourge of extremism and ensure that social media is not a breeding ground for hatred.
“The Board of Deputies stands in solidarity with the Muslim community, who should know that they are not alone in standing up to the evil of anti-Muslim prejudice.”