Moderate British Muslims have been warned by police that their lives are in danger after speaking out against extremists.
Several prominent Muslims were named in a hate video posted by al-Shabab militants, the terror faction which massacred unarmed shoppers in Kenya, as targets for fundamentalists.
At least one commentator, Mohammed Ansar, is now under police protection following the threat to murder him for condemning the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, on May22.
Threats against the British Muslims were made in an hour-long video called The Woolwich Attack: An Eye for an Eye which praises the death of Drummer Rigby and calls for more such attacks. It included footage of critics who condemned the attack.
In the film the narrator, speaking with a British accent and his face covered by a mask, urged viewers: “If you can’t afford to get hold of [a gun] then certainly a simple knife from your local B&Q will do the job.”
The narrator attempted to justify his call by claiming that “Western crusaders” were responsible for “the invasion of Muslim lands, and the slaughter of hundreds of innocent Muslims”. Another speaker featured in the broadcast urged viewers to “cut the necks of the disbelievers”, and moderate British Muslims were said to have “mutilated the teachings of Islam”.
Scotland Yard was reluctant to comment on the contents of the footage or the action is is taking but confirmed: “We are aware of the video and are assessing its contents and looking into it.”
But Mr Ansar, who provoked the ire of extremists by describing the killing of Drummer Rigby as “sickening and heinous”, said he had been contacted by police and offered protection. There are now frequent patrols of his home and he is in hourly contact with police.
He said that the threat to those Muslims who speak out against extremism is “a frightening new dimension” to the terror tactics employed by jihadists.
Ajmal Masroor, a broadcaster and imam, is among those who have been visited by police to tell them of the threat and to offer advice.
He issued a defiant promise to continue speaking out and said on his Facebook page: “I shall continue doing what I believe is right and true despite threats and I shall speak out loud and clearly against extremism and terrorism no matter how many threats I receive.
“Ultimately the extremists would run out of steam and the terrorists would fizzle out, but moderation, fairness and truth will always prevail.”
Another person threatened in the video was Usama Hasan who is a senior researcher with the anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation which recently persuaded Tommy Robinson to resign from his leadership and membership of the English Defence League.