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Muslims fear anti-Islam backlash in Spain

Barcelona -UNS : Prayer time is approaching but Raja Miah, an imam at a tiny mosque in the heart of Barcelona does not expect a big turnout.

Since the twin attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils claimed by the Islamic State group, the Muslim community in central Barcelona’s neighbourhood of Raval fears an anti-Islam backlash.

“People are very scared,” said Miah, 23, as he sat in a small room at the mosque in Raval as a small group of children in an adjoining room studied the Koran.

Raval — whose name derives from the Arabic word for neighbourhood — is located just west of Barcelona’s bustling Las Ramblas boulevard where a van ploughed into pedestrians on Thursday, killing 13 and injuring dozens of others. Just hours later, another person died in a similar attack in the holiday town of Cambrils, where police shot five suspects dead.

“There is a lot of fear, people don’t go out. Very few people come to pray. Normally we are about 40 people, last night we weren’t even 15 and this morning 10,” said Miah, who moved to Barcelona nine years ago from Bangladesh.

Spain’s Muslim community has until now been spared from the islamophobia that has swept parts of Europe.

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