The Muslim Patrols are only the latest instance of a phenomenon that is growing more widespread in Europe and is being mirrored by anti-Muslim groups, said Maajid Nawaz, head of the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremism think tank in London.
"This is more about the Muslim community than non-Muslims. These people think they are making what they do attractive to young people," said Salman Farsi, a spokesman for the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, which caters to one of the city's biggest Muslim communities.
It was outside this mosque in the London borough of Tower Hamlets that the Muslim Patrols operated for a few nights in January.
Footage shot with a mobile phone and posted on YouTube showed the youths aggressively approaching various people after dark, telling one man to get rid of a can of alcohol and chasing a couple away from the area for, as one member of the patrols is heard telling another, "exposing themselves in front of the mosque".
In one clip, they approached a man who appeared to be wearing make-up, telling him: "You are walking through a Muslim area dressed like a fag, mate. You better get out of here