Plans by an alliance of rightwing extremists and football hooligans to exact “revenge” on Muslims after last week’s bomb attacks are being monitored by police.
The Guardian has learned that extremists are keen to cause widespread fear and injury with attacks on mosques and high-profile “anti-Muslim” events in the capital.
Football hooligans communicating over the internet have spoken of the need to put aside partisan support for teams and unite against Muslims. Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause.
As part of wider plans to generate a backlash, rightwing groups such as the Nationalist Alliance and the National Front are said to be planning marches. Extremists hope to hold a march along Victoria Embankment in London tomorrow.
It is also known that many mosques have received bomb threats since the attacks.
Attempts by the right to make capital out of the tragedy have created a powderkeg. Already extremist Islamist websites have told Muslims to be ready to retaliate.
The BNP sought to capitalise on last week’s atrocities in its byelection literature in Barking, Essex, by reproducing a picture of the bombed No 30 bus with the headline Maybe Now it’s Time to Listen to the BNP.
But the tactic backfired last night when Labour trounced the BNP, winning the Becontree byelection with 1,171 votes. The BNP received 378.
The BNP’s tactic prompted cross-party condemnation. Though it was designed to increase support for the far-right, many believe the message may have been too crass and too badly timed to work. The party does, however, enjoy some support in the area.
Gerry Gable, of the anti- fascist organisation Searchlight, said: “There is no doubt that the far-right are playing this for all they think it is worth.
“If you look at the BNP website there’s Nick Griffin saying ‘be calm’ and other material saying ‘don’t get angry, get even!'”
He added: “These things should be taken seriously. One site, Blood and Honour, had a posting about a mosque in the Wirral and soon after the mosque was hit. Soon after, the posting was taken down.”
The police have pledged to crack down on any attempts to provoke division in the aftermath of the bombs. Members of Scotland Yard’s independent advisory group have been asked to liaise with borough commanders in the capital to reassure the public and make sure the police carry out their pledges.
The Met has said from the outset that the bombs were an attack on all communities and that none should be scapegoated.
The synergy between rightwing extremists and football hooligans is not new. Throughout the 1980s, some of the biggest clubs in Britain were plagued by notoriously violent and racist followers.
Though virtually all clubs have since challenged the behaviour of extremist fans, and almost all now belong to the Kick Racism Out of Football initiative, violent followers continue to communicate with each other and supporters from other clubs to engineer confrontations.
The prospect of the opening day Championship fixture between Leeds and Millwall in August is already causing concern.