This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Attacks on Somalis "are up since killing of Lee Rigby"
by Ciaran Fagan
Members of the Somali community fear they are suffering an anti-Islamic backlash following the death of soldier Lee Rigby.
Somalis said they have been spat at, verbally abused and, in some cases, thugs have tried to pull off women's veils or scarves.
Jawaahir Daahir, founder and chief executive of Somali Development Services, a community group in Highfields, Leicester, said it was hearing more reports of abuse than it would usually expect.
The group met senior police officers on Tuesday to outline its concerns.
Ms Daahir said: "You cannot know what motivates people to do these things, but we have noticed an increase in incidents since the tragic death of Lee Rigby.
"There has been swearing and racist language in some cases, but also there have been incidents of people being attacked."
We have heard a woman had to run into a shop in the city centre to escape from some men and we have also heard stories of two women being spat at.
Another woman posted on Facebook that she was afraid to leave her home and felt she was under house arrest."
Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon, head of policing in the city, said reported incidents would be investigated.
He said: "The incidents referred to by Jawaahir are very concerning.
"I would urge anyone with information or who has suffered to contact us.
"Since the death of Lee Rigby, we have been carrying out significant work within the community, including daily messages to community leaders, reassurance visits and patrols.
"We pride ourselves on the strong relationship we have with the Somali community and hope if there are any concerns regarding the recent events they can approach us with confidence."
Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for Leicestershire's Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: "We have not picked up on any increase in incidents since the tragic death of Lee Rigby.
"There is always the possibility these things are happening to people but are not being reported to the police.
"We would urge people to report all incidents of this nature, so the people who are responsible can be held to account.
"Officers are searching for a cyclist who tried to pull off a Muslim woman's face veil as he rode past her in London Road, Leicester. The woman was targeted as she walked with her family to Victoria Park at 6.50pm on Sunday, May 26. On Monday this week, the letters EDL – thought to refer to the English Defence League – were written on a bin at Oadby Islamic Centre, in Sandhurst Street. In the past year, Leicestershire Police said it had seen a 9.9 per cent reduction in hate crimes – with 44 fewer offences than in the previous year.Anyone with information should call police on 101.