East London ‘acid’ attacks to be debated in parliament

The vigil at Stratford Station for cousins Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan who were attacked with aci

The vigil at Stratford Station for cousins Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan who were attacked with acid while sitting in their car in Beckton. - Credit: Archant

Local politicians have urged the government and the Mayor to tackle attacks with corrosive substances, whilst an anti-Islamophobia charity says there is “a heightened sense of fear” in the area.

These calls after an acid hate crime in Beckton that left two with life-changing injuries.

Police have said that this was the only hate crime involving acid or corrosive substances that has been reported in the borough.

Last year Newham had 149 acid attacks.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms has arranged a debate in the House of Commons on Monday July 17 about the attacks, which he says “are causing a lot concern to many residents in Newham”.

He said he would use the debate to “press ministers to consider licensing the sale of corrosive liquids to combat the surge in acid attacks.”

At the London Assembly yesterday, Unmesh Desai AM asked Mayor Sadiq Khan what action would be taken, stressing to him: “Mr Mayor, people in east London are very concerned about these attacks”.

The Mayor agreed that the increase both in ‘acid’ attacks and hate crime was “very worrying”, noting that Islamophobic hate crime had increased by 41 per cent compared to 2016.

The Met Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey, also present, said police are discussing Stephen Timms’ proposal of stricter regulations with the Home Office as well as looking at powers they could use to identify people carrying corrosive substances, such as searching cars pulled over by the police.

The Recorder approached TellMAMA, an anti-Islamophobia charity, about the situation. Director Iman Atta said: “We understand that some within Muslim communities, particularly visible Muslim women, have felt a heightened sense of fear after the recent incidents of acid attacks.

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We also know that social media has exacerbated the fear and impacted on it. We are concerned that after the attacks on Resham Khan and Jameel Mukhtar, that such levels of fear are greatly heightened.

“The Newham Borough Commander has made clear that Resham and Jameel’s case was only the second report in the last 12 months within the whole of London of such an incident having a hate crime link. We would urge the police to upscale community engagement so that fears within Muslim communities can be allayed.”