29/07/2013 07:15 BST | Updated 29/07/2013 07:29 BST

Theresa May Accused Of Double Standards Over Response To Anti-Muslim Attacks

File photo dated 30/09/12 of Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper who has acknowledged fears about the impact of Bulgarian and Romanian migration when restrictions are lifted next year but insisted vital changes to ease potential problems could be made before January.

The government has been accused of double standards for failing to respond to the murder of an 82-year-old Muslim man in the same way it did to the killing of Lee Rigby.

Pavlo Lapshyn,25, has been charged with the "terrorist-related" murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in April. The killing was followed by explosions at mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton.

However Labour has raised concerns that the attacks have not been examined by the extremism task-force set up by David Cameron in the wake of the Woolwich terrorist attack.

Labour's shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has written to Theresa May to ask that both Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim attacks are treated equally.

Cooper told The Independent: "These terrorist attacks, including the murder of Mr Saleem, are vile, appalling attempts to divide our communities. It is essential that there is serious engagement by government with the communities who have faced these threats.”

She added: “Like others, I had assumed the prime minister’s task force for tackling extremism would engage seriously with the West Midlands communities concerned. Its purpose was to ask questions about attacks, what more we can do to prevent extremism and to protect our communities.

"Clearly it needs to cover terror attacks on Muslim communities as well as Islamist extremism. So I think it’s really important the task force considers these attacks and engages with the community now."

The extremism task force is chaired by the prime minister and includes senior cabinet ministers including Nick Clegg, May and George Osborne as well as security chiefs.

In her response to Cooper, May defended the government's response and said Labour had misunderstood the point of the task force as it was about broad policy not operational responses to specific incidents.

The home secretary said Home Office minister James Brokenshire's visit to the affected communities as well as holding a private meeting with Saleem's family "demonstrates clearly our commitment to support those are are targeted by extremists of whatever motivation".

"We have already made clear that it [the task force] should address all forms of extremism," she said. "These are of course terrible crimes which have the potential to cause fear and resentment across communities and we must continue to make lear that we will not tolerate extremism which attemps to dvide us".

And a Home Office spokesman said May had spoken personally with Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale and is being kept up-to-date with the latest developments.

"The Security Minister James Brokenshire visited Birmingham on Tuesday, 23 July to talk to local people and reassure them that action is being taken to help them feel safe, particularly during Ramadan. Specialist advisers have been giving security advice to mosques, Islamic schools and community centres and there have been increased police patrols," the spokesperson said.

"The home secretary will be visiting Tipton in the coming weeks to show continued support for those affected and that we stand united against extremism whatever form it takes."