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Mosques

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department is taking to monitor attacks on mosques in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [112240]

The police are alert to the risk of attacks on mosques and other places of worship, and have arrangements for reporting such incidents centrally. A Muslim Safety Forum, which includes a wide range of Muslim community representation, meets monthly with the police to discuss community safety issues.The Government are fully committed to tackling Islamophobia wherever it occurs. The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 introduced nine new religiously-aggravated offences, including assault and criminal damage, where the maximum penalties available to the courts are substantially increased if it can be shown that there was evidence of religious hostility to the offences.The investigation of possible breaches of these laws is an operational matter for the police and then the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue. We would therefore urge anyone who believes these laws to have been breached to report the matter to the police.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what change there has been in the incidence of attacks on mosques in the last three months; and if he will make a statement. [112241]

According to police figures, between 14 February and 26 March there were eight recorded instances of attacks on mosques, resulting in each case in minor criminal damage. Since 26 March there have been only two further recorded instances of criminal damage to mosques.