Asked to make a statement about the threat of hate crimes, Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace told the House of Commons on Monday that the threat was real and the country needed to take swift action before another tragedy strikes.
“There are different factors at play in the United Kingdom but nevertheless, as I said this morning, it is perfectly possible that this type of thing will happen here,” Wallace told lawmakers, referring to a similar statement he made during a BBC interview earlier in the day.
Wallace told the Commons that the government had recorded a surge in far-right extremist activities across the UK, a concern that he said needed urgent attention.
“We are already seeing a growing threat from people moving into the extremist mindset of the extreme right wing and neo-Nazis, and that is the pool that terrorists of the future will recruit from,” he argued.
“The current threat is from sudden violent extremists—people who, in minutes, can step outside their front door, grab a knife or car and wreak murder on our streets,” Wallace added.
A UK minister warns Muslims in the country could be target of a New Zealand-style mass shooting.
Wallace (pictured above) said “many people” had considered mounting such attacks against Muslims and other minority groups within the UK but strict gun control laws had prevented them, something he said both New Zealand and the United States lacked.
Australia-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant set off on a killing spree last Friday, killing 50 Muslims at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
In his “manifesto,” he claimed that he was inspired by Darren Osborne, an English terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of Muslim worshipers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, in June 2017.
Tackling Islamophobia in UK
Wallace admitted elsewhere in his remarks that islamophobia was a serious issue both in the UK and across Europe.
“I have publicly spoken out for many years about the fact that Islamophobia exists,” he said. “It exists across our communities, in all our political parties and in the communities we represent; it exists throughout Europe, not just in the UK, and we have to tackle it.”
“I condemn Islamophobia. It is racism; it is like any other type of racism. We should not even subdivide it. It is what it is. It is racism, just as antisemitism is racism,” he added.
A new poll shows anti-Islam hate is replacing immigration as main driver of far-right surge in the UK.
Hate attacks against Muslims have been on rise since a series of terror attacks by Daesh sympathizers across the UK in 2017. Islamic communities in the UK have always condemned such acts of terror.
Campaigners believe a general trend among British politicians to pander with far-right groups to win more votes is partly to blame for surge in anti-Muslim hate behavior.
“We will sense the fear that there currently is in some of those communities as a response to the attack in New Zealand and that there was even before that, given the growing rise of Islamophobia, spread through the evils of some of these chatrooms on the internet,” Wallace said.
“We are not going to let these people spread their hate and we will put in all the resource we need to put in to counter it,” he pledged.
You can read a full transcript of Wallace’s Q&A session at the Commons here.