UK police probe attacks on 5 mosques in Birmingham

Damaged windows of a mosque are seen in Birmingham, Britain, on March 21, 2019, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.
Damaged windows of a mosque are seen in Birmingham, Britain, on March 21, 2019, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • A sledgehammer-wielding man was seen smashing windows at two mosques in the British city of Birmingham and three more have been similarly vandalised overnight, the police said yesterday.

Counter-terrorism officers are investigating attacks on the mosques in the north of the city, West Midlands Police said in a statement.

The police added that the incidents "are being treated as linked".

"We don't know the motive for the attacks," Chief Constable Dave Thompson said in a statement. "The force and the counter-terrorism unit are working side by side to find whoever is responsible."

Officers were first alerted in the early hours of yesterday to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at one of the places of worship, police said.

Following reports of a similar attack at another mosque, the police launched targeted patrols and found "further damage" at two other sites.

A fifth mosque later reported that its windows had been smashed.

The West Midlands Police said: "Forensic officers are working to identify evidence and CCTV is being examined."

British national police chiefs last week announced that officers were providing "reassurance patrols" around mosques in the aftermath of last Friday's deadly gun rampage in New Zealand.

 
 

Anti-racism groups have warned that Islamophobia is on the rise in Britain and spurring a spike in far-right activity in the country.

A report released last month by the Hope Not Hate charity cited a poll which found more than a third of Britons see Islam as "generally a threat to the British way of life".

Meanwhile, Mr Mohammed Mahmoud - an imam who won praise for shielding the perpetrator of a 2017 deadly terror attack against a north London mosque - reported that he was spat at and abused this week.

Mr Mahmoud said he was targeted on Monday when he returned home from a solidarity event for the New Zealand massacre with other religious leaders, including Home Secretary Sajid Javid and London mayor Sadiq Khan.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'UK police probe attacks on 5 mosques in Birmingham'. Print Edition | Subscribe