Tension in the Tooting community is high tonight after two attacks by black youths against Muslims in eight days but the local community is united in insisting there is no inter-racial problem between Asian and blacks.

As Muslim’s gathered for Ramadan prayer’s this afternoon, press from around the world, including Al Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Qatar and Press TV, based in Iran, descended on Tooting to follow the story.

Police are investigating the murder of Ekram Haque, who was attacked as he stood with his three-year-old granddaughter Miriam outside a mosque in Church Lane on August 31.

Police said a second attack on a 30-year-old Muslim in Gatton Road on Tuesday was not linked to the first attack although both involved a group of black youths and were racially motivated.

Tooting MP Sadiq Khan said there was a danger the two separate attacks outside mosques in Tooting were creating a racial tension that didn’t exist.

Mr Khan said: “I have lived in Tooting all my life, I work and shop here and in my opinion we do not have an inter-racial problem.

The danger is we start to slander the good reputation of Tooting. We are a very strong community where mosques and churches live cheek by jowl. We are a community in inner London and these attacks have not led to any riots and retaliation, which shows what a cohesive community Tooting is.

These are terrible, abhorent attacks but I have been extremely impressed with the response from the police and authorities have dealt with the problem.

There will now be due process and these matters will be dealt with by the police and court.”

Mr Khan did accept there are problems with gangs but said it was a small minority of young people and gangs causing trouble.

Maree Hanson, a community worker who has worked with black and Asian youths, said she hadn’t witnessed any increase in racial tension.

She said: “I’ve worked with a lot of kids in Wandsworth since 2006, from completely different backgrounds and races, and have never seen any trouble or tension.

“In fact, from my experience, black and Asian kids seem to get on as well as anyone. I definitely think there is no real problem between the two communities.”

Councillor Rex Osborn of Graveney Ward - where the attack on Mr Haque occurred - said: "There’s an obvious concern that the race problem becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

If there was a big problem we would have seen it. The important thing when there is we fully establish the facts on the attacks before we make any conclusions.”

Flowers mark the spot where Mr Haque stood with his granddaughter before he was attacked with outside the Idara-e-Jafferiya Mosque.

A note attached to one bunch, from a Kate Neville of neighbouring Moring Road, said: “A terrible tragedy Mr Haque, best wishes to your family. God bless you.”

Today a spokesman for the mosque said: “We are all still in mourning for our respected colleague and friend Ekram Haque. People are anxious we are calm. Firstly we don’t get violent and secondly this is a month of peace and love for us. It is a month where we try and make peace with everyone and try to propagate peace.”

The police [who have stepped up patrols in the area] have been very good.”

The deputy Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Shiraz Mirza, a leading member of the south London Pakistani community who worships at the Church Lane mosque, said Muslims needed to treat other communities with sensitivity.

He said: “I think it is important that during Ramadan, when there are a lot of Muslims gathering to pray, people don’t stand around in large groups blocking the footpath, leave litter in the street and don’t block other people’s driveways. It has to be communities working together.”

Pensioner Saabir Tareef, from Earlsfield, said: “I think because this has taken place during the holy month, emotions are frayed. Different generations of Muslims are reacting differently to the death of Mr Haque.

“The older ones are trying to keep the peace despite being worried. The generation below are angry but are trying to tell their children not to worry. However, it seems the younger generation are the most angry.”

Martin Bainbridge, of Vant Road, said: “There have been problems with gangs round here (Tooting) for a while so I think it was probably to do with gangs rather than racism.”

Residents living around Church Lane are particularly concerned.

Henal Patel, 42, said: “I didn’t think the first attack was racist but then I heard about the second one. But two attacks in a week, both outside mosques in Tooting, surely this can’t be a coincidence?”

Mother-of -two, Noor Malik, from Tooting, added: “From a female point of view, I’m very worried. If a man of Mr Haque’s size [Mr Haque was over 6ft] can be assaulted then what chance do the large number of Muslim women, who walk here mainly on their own, have?”

Hasnan Muhammed, from Mitcham, said: “It’s not surprising that someone has been killed. This was always going to happen as it seems children, because lets be honest that’s what they were, are allowed to run riot and do as they please.”

A mile away the mood was calm as worshippers gathered Outside the Gatton Road Mosque, where the 30-year-old Asian was attacked on Tuesday evening.

One worshipper, Mohammed Omar, 31 said: "Me personally, I'm not worried. I don't believe it was a racist attack. They were just young boys fighting."

Another, who did not want to be named, said: "We are not worried. It was just two young boys having a fight, that's all. “ Hoosen Randeree, deputy headteacher of the all-Muslim Gatton School, which is located beside to the mosque, said: "We are always vigilant, because we have children in our care. It's shocking. It's something we treasure, that we have a diverse community and live in harmony. These incidents are very sad.”

Four teenagers appeared in youth court on Tuesday. A 15-year-old, and two 14-year-olds were charged with the murder of Mr Haque and two counts of ABH. The fourth boy, aged 12 was charged with conspiracy to commit GBH and two counts of assault.

Anyone with information on either attack should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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