September attacks 'ignited latent xenophobia in Europe'

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The Independent Online

Latent xenophobia in Britain and the rest of Europe was ignited by the events of 11 September, a report said yesterday as it highlighted a catalogue of attacks on Muslims.

Latent xenophobia in Britain and the rest of Europe was ignited by the events of 11 September, a report said yesterday as it highlighted a catalogue of attacks on Muslims.

The report described physical assaults on Muslim men and women, arson attacks on mosques and a "vitriolic" campaign by British tabloid newspapers against asylum-seekers.

The document, compiled by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, also cited criticisms of Islam by senior politicians, including the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the former British prime minister Baroness Thatcher.

Launching the report, Bob Purkiss, the chairman of the centre, said that 11 September "has, in some cases, merely acted as a detonator of feelings that we have failed to adequately address.

"If it is right for Europe to give a lead where there is ethnic tension elsewhere in the world, then it is imperative that it puts its own house in order if it is to be listened to."

The study reproduces five pages worth of reports of physical or verbal violence against Muslims in Britain, including gang attacks, explosions, hate mail, threatening graffiti, and an incident where 10 pigs' heads were left outside an Essex mosque.

Citing headlines from the Daily Mail, the report also says that there has been a wider media campaign against immigrants in Britain.

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