Muslims were caught on guard last week when the British government suddenly announced local lockdowns in a number of areas in the north of England where cases have spiked. The announcement came just hours before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest festivals in Islam.
The restrictions – which were published late last Thursday night – forbade people in the named areas to mix with other households.
Local politicians and Muslim leaders criticized the timing of the announcement.
"The moment … the mind of the focused people [on Muslims]" Rabnawaz Akbar, a Labor councilor in Manchester, told CNN.
The government "has done it at the end of Eid," led people to think "it must be the fault of the Muslim community," Akbar said. "You see how people would have assumed. [The government] have done so without thinking, but of course they highlight a particular demographic. And people are angry and now that anger is focused on a particular society."  A Downing Street spokesman said in a statement to CNN: "Lockdowns decisions are based solely on scientific advice and the latest data. Where there are local outbreaks, our priority will continue to be to take the necessary steps to protect people. . "
Akbar also criticized Craig Whittaker, a Conservative MP who suggested that England's ethnic minorities did not comply with pandemic guidelines.
"What I've seen in my constituency is that we have areas in our community … that just do not take the pandemic seriously enough," Whittaker said Friday when asked about the local lockdowns during an interview with LBC- radio.
When asked if he was talking about the Muslim population, Whittaker replied: "Of course."  "If you look at the areas where we have seen the rises and falls of the vast majority – not in any way by the imagination, all the areas – but it is the BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] communities that do not take it seriously enough, "he added.
Whittaker's comments were met with a shout, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about them at a press conference on Friday.
The British leader did not condemn the MP, saying: "Well, I think it is up to all of us in government to make sure that the message is heard loud and clear by everyone across the country, and to make sure that everyone follows the guidelines. . "
This week, the Downing Street spokesman told CNN: "At Friday's press conference, the Prime Minister apologized to all those who could not celebrate Eid the way they wanted. and thanke d worked with mosques and imams to get the message out of the importance of following security guidance.
"And he stated in his Eid message that he is hugely grateful to the Muslim community for their efforts and victims throughout this pandemic. . "
" Designating a society in this way is completely wrong, stigmatizing and unappealing for a MP, "the group said in a statement.
After the controversy, Whittaker said his evidence was based on data from local officials at Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire.
"At a time when authenticity is a behavior that is hardly exhibited by public figures, I am glad that I have chosen an open, honest and frank discussion about politics. visibility and … I do not apologize for my comments, "he added.
Tell MAMA Director Iman Atta he told CNN that extreme right-wing extremists had accused Muslims of the pandemic since the beginning of the British uprising in March.
" In March, April, May, we saw many conspiracy theories floating around, "she said." Far to the right, shared images of Muslims gathering and floating the rules at mosques that were in reality shut down and did not work. The pictures were from last year, "she said.
" And they have spread rumors online about how the BAME communities are spreading the virus, so [people] should not be interacting with them. "
Atta findings are repeated by those from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents several British mosques and Muslim organizations.
Earlier in the lockdown" theories spread that Muslims would gather in secret during Ramadan, that mosques were secretly open – none of them were true and there was no evidence, "Zainab Gulamali, a spokeswoman for the organization, told CNN.
Gulamali added that she was disappointed that Johnson and his Conservative colleagues had fail to condemn Whittaker's comments on the BAME people.
Johnson himself has been repeatedly accused of Islamophobia, drawing sharp reprimands from Muslim communities in 2018 over an article he wrote about Muslim women wearing burqas. The politician said that women who wore the veil looked like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers."
He later offered a partial apology, saying: "As far as my words have offended the last twenty or thirty years when I I have been a journalist, and people have taken those words out of my articles and escalated them, of course I'm sorry me [fortheviolationtheyhavecaused"
Crime figures suggest that Britain has become a more hostile place for Muslims in recent years. Despite accounting for less than 5% of the UK's 66 million strong population, 52% of religious hate crimes committed in England and Wales between 2017 and 2018 targeted Muslims.
Much of the recent blame on Muslims seems to be driven by the fact that Covid-19 has hit the country's ethnic minorities hard.