An Orthodox Jewish group has appointed themselves as guardians for the Muslim community in a London neighbourhood, after a spike in crimes against mosques and other hate-fuelled attacks.
Meet the Orthodox Jews defending British Muslims on the streets of a tough London neighbourhood.
The 25-strong “Shomrim,” which translates to Guards in Hebrew, was formed in 2008 following a crime wave in North London's Stamford Hill Area 4. Cops initially feared the group could spark vigilantism but now cooperate closely with the volunteers, who helped in 197 arrests last year.
Part of the group's role is to guard the area's large Muslim population, which has become the victim of hate attacks in recent years.
Shomrim officer Shulem Stern told AFP, “There was a spike in anti-Muslim hate crime. All over England, mosques were being firebombed. The councillors thought: ‘We’ve got Shomrim in the local area, why don’t we utilise them’?”
The team now guards Mosques in the area amid fears of attacks following the rise of ISIS. Shomrim volunteer Chaim Hochhauser claims that their work is vital in the area.
He said, “Their doors are open all the time, so anyone who wants can walk and do what they want, chuck in a firebomb. The local Muslims and local Jewish people do so much business together. In religious aspects as well there are loads of similarities.”
The group hit the headlines when it was praised by John Kerry earlier this year. Speaking at the launch of a report on religious freedom, he said, “Their courage goes unremarked, but that makes it all the more remarkable. Believe me, that’s the definition of courage.”
Local Muslim councillor Dawood Akhoon said the Muslim response had been “really good and positive.”
He told AFP: “It’s part and parcel of each of our faiths, we have to take care of our environment and our neighbors.”