Muslim group demands tougher response to mosque attacks

One of Britain's largest Islamic groups has said a "dramatic escalation in violence" against British Muslims needs a much tougher response from the government.

Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said the bombings of three Midlands mosques marked "the crossing of a red line".

On Tuesday a man was charged over the bomb attacks in June and July. Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, who was charged a day earlier with the terrorist-related murder of a Muslim pensioner, Mohammed Saleem, in Birmingham in April, appeared before City of Westminster magistrates court where the new charges were announced.

Lapsyn, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, was in Birmingham on a work placement. He was charged with carrying out a series of acts with the intention to commit acts of terrorism between 24 April and 18 July, related to three separate explosions in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton. No one was injured in the explosions.

He was also charged with two offences of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion with the intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person or property.

The court heard that Lapsyn allegedly purchased chemicals to make explosive devices and modified mobile phones to act as detonators. He spoke only to confirm his name and was remanded in custody until another hearing this month.

The MCB said the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in an alleged terrorist act in Woolwich, south London, in May had unleashed an increase in violence. A series of incidents had added to "a palpable sense of fear" among Muslim communities, it said.

"The community has patiently borne the brunt of these attacks despite condemning in the strongest possible terms the tragic murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby," Murad said. "Despite this spike in incidences, there has yet to be a co-ordinated national effort to ensure that these sorts of attacks never happen again. It cannot be right that a minority community is allowed to be targeted in this manner."

He added: "There is an urgent need for the government and police to respond with a co-ordinated national strategy so as to prevent further attacks."

Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command is investigating an arson attack on a mosque in north London on 5 June. Graffiti reading "EDL" – a possible reference to the English Defence League – was found nearby.

The West Midlands explosions and the murder of Saleem, 82, are being investigated by the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit. Detectives are expected to arrive in Ukraine shortly to continue inquiries into Lapshyn.

On Sunday the home secretary, Theresa May, said: "I have been shocked and sickened at the brutal murder of Mohammed Saleem and recent attacks on mosques in the West Midlands, all of which are now being investigated as terrorist incidents.

"Just as we saw people coming together to denounce Woolwich, so we must come together and stand firm against extremism whatever form it takes."