Thursday, January 24, 2013

Scotland Yard Appeal To Man Subjected To Harassment And Homophobic Abuse By “Muslim Patrol” Vigilantes To Come Forward

In the United Kingdom, police have released a picture of a man who was harassed and subjected to homophobic abuse by a gang of vigilantes calling themselves "Muslim patrols" in the hope that he will come forward. Scotland Yard is investigating a number of incidents that took place in east London over the weekend of January 12 and 13 in which the self-styled vigilantes tried to intimidate members of the public. Footage of their abuse – including a video entitled "Muslim vigilantes in London harass and taunt gay male" – was posted on YouTube, enabling police to take a screengrab of the victim of the homophobic insults. "It is not clear to officers at this time where this incident took place or when, but the video shows a small group verbally harass and intimidate a man using homophobic language," said a spokesman for the Metropolitan police, reports the Guardian. "Officers are eager to speak to a man in the video and have issued a screengrab from the uploaded video and are appealing for him to contact police." Detective Chief Inspector Wendy Morgan from Tower Hamlets borough said that, "The Met takes such homophobic behaviour very seriously. This man is a crucial witness in the investigation and we would encourage him and anyone else with information relating to this incident to make contact in confidence as soon as possible." Scotland Yard said the incidents were being investigated by the Tower Hamlets borough community safety unit, adding that the number of police patrols in east London had been stepped up in a bid to reassure people in the area. Two people have so far been arrested in connection with the investigation: a 22-year-old man was arrested in Acton, west London, on 20 January, while a 19-year-old man voluntarily attended an east London police station a day later. Both have been bailed to return in February and March. The actions of the so-called "Muslim patrols" have been condemned by the East London mosque, which described them as "utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord.” Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is asked to contact police at the community safety unit. DI Cliff Jones, DS Chris Bagshaw or DC Stacey Yarker can be called on 020-7275 4758 or via 101. They can also be emailed at thcsu@met.police.uk or Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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