A Jewish community-based citizen patrol in London says it wants to help its Muslim neighbors protect their mosques.
The Muslim community of Hackney says it needs the extra security following the burning down of a Somali cultural center and the discovery of a homemade explosive at a mosque, events that according to media accounts could be vigilante responses to the brutal murder of Lee Rigby, the British soldier who was butchered in broad daylight on a London street last month.
The Shomrim – which means guards in Hebrew - are made up of police-trained Orthodox Jews who wear badges and uniform and patrol 24-hours a day. The group which was originally established in order to combat anti-Semitic attacks has now answered a request from Muslim neighbors to include local mosques in Hackney in the patrols.
Shomrim supervisor Chaim Hochhauser tells the Hackney Gazette, “The Muslim community approached Cllr [Ian] Sharer and asked him what they could do to protect themselves.”
“He called us and asked us if we could help. We told them what we could do. We are pleased the Jewish community wanted to help,” Hochhauser said.
“Both communities get on really well here. It’s a shame it’s not like this all over the world. We help out all the whole community, not just the Jewish community,” Hochhauser added.
Eusoof Ameerat who is a member of the Hackney Police Independent Advisory Group, said, “It’s a great offer. We don’t just want to receive, we want to work together as a team rather than just taking their support and try to support each other as a community."
“I would say it’s the sort of thing we should all be doing,” he added.
British media report that the idea was conceived by Ian Sharer who leads the Hackney Liberal Democrats and is himself an Orthodox Jew.
Sharer told the Jewish Chronicle that in light of the targeting of Muslim sites in the area, "This seemed like a natural thing to do. This is a very serious situation, and so I thought, why not call my friends from Shomrim? We wanted to see if we could offer them protection and also security lessons.”
The Huffington Post UK describes more of the Shomrim’s responsibilities: “The volunteer group, similar to a Neighbourhood Watch, are trained to safely track and detain suspects until police arrive, and run a 24-hour hotline for those in the area to report attacks. The group was started by Jewish New Yorkers angry at lengthy police response times after crimes were reported.”