London murder sparks spike in threats to Muslims

Monitoring group warns that threats have shifted to specific targets following the beheading of an elderly woman

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A monitoring group has reported a surge in threats against Muslims and mosques following the gruesome beheading of an elderly woman in north London Thursday.

As detectives Friday tried to establish just what drove Nicholas Salvador, 25, to allegedly decapitate 82-year-old Palmira Silva in her back garden in Edmonton, a group monitoring threats against British Muslims said it saw a rise in reports just hours after news of the incident broke.

See also: ISIS beheadings may have inspired London madman

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell Mama, said the reported incidents included threats on social media as well as threats in the street in Wales and south London to women wearing the hijab, The Guardian newspaper reported.

Mughal said what was of particular concern was that the threats now shifted to naming specific targets, among them a mosque.

“They are not saying 'we hate you' or 'we hate Muslims', but [are making] actual threats of attacks against Muslims and mosques,” The Guardian quoted Mughal as saying.

“The assumption is that ‘beheading equals Muslim.’ The association, for some, is an automatic response,” he added.

Mughal said that over a period of two weeks his organization had seen three spikes in threats: following a report into sexual abuse by Muslim men in Rotherham, after the release Tuesday of a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by an ISIS militant, and after the Edmonton incident.

Thursday’s incident sparked panic in the area as Salvador, who was described as going on a rampage while armed with a machete, allegedly tried to attack at least two other people.

Residents said he was he was heard muttering about cats, and was reported to have attacked some.

Salvador, who is under guard at hospital after being subdued by police, has been charged with the murder was due to appear at Highbury Corner magistrates court Saturday. He has also been charged with assaulting a police officer.

Police have found nothing to suggest that the alleged murder of Silva was linked to terrorism.

Police detectives are leading the probe into the incident rather than Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism unit.

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