Over the past week, London has been hit by a series of incidents in which a group of self-styled vigilantes have accosted Londoners for not adhering to what they say are Islamic standards.
The men posted videos of their "Muslim patrols" on YouTube. In one video posted by BBC World, the men appear take an alcoholic beverage from a pedestrian and pour it out. They tell him that alcohol is not allowed in a "Muslim area."
Later in the video, the men tell a young woman wearing a skirt to cover up.
"We don't respect those who disobey God," they tell her.
The woman tells them she is "appalled."
"This is Great Britain," she says, to which one of the men responds that they are "vigilantes implementing Islam upon your necks."
This week, after another video — this time showing the men accosting another man for being gay — surfaced online, Scotland Yard made two arrests.
The Guardian reports:
"The Metropolitan Police said that two men were arrested in connection with a series of incidents that took place over the course of 12-13 January in east London. Videos of the incidents were later uploaded onto YouTube.
"A 22-year-old man was arrested in Acton on Sunday while a 19-year-old man voluntarily attended an east London police station on Monday.
"A Met spokesperson said: 'The pair were arrested on suspicion of GBH and Public Order offences and have been bailed to return to an east London police station on a dates in February and March pending further enquiries. The Metropolitan Police Service takes these incidents very seriously and is pursuing various lines of enquiry with a view to identifying and prosecuting the individuals concerned."
In the early video, the men say they are standing in front of mosque. According to the East London Mosque, they were in front of their building, but in a statement, they called the patrols "utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord."
"We wholly condemn them," the statement went on. "The East London Mosque is committed to building cooperation and harmony between all communities in this borough. The actions of this tiny minority have no place in our faith nor on our streets."
Ethnic and religious tensions have always existed in the U.K. Remember, it was those tensions that fueled the 2011 riots in Birmingham.
In a op-ed in Britain's Independent, Hasnet Lais writes that stunts like these play right into the hands of those who oppose Muslims. He says that incidents like these are rare, but they make the fear of a Sharia state stoked by extremists seem real to regular Britons.
"In my experience, far from advocating Sharia squads, most ordinary mosque-goers would be sickened at the sight of co-religionists pontificating about morals to non-Muslims," he writes.