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Five mosques attacked with sledgehammers in Birmingham

Sky News logo Sky News 21-03-2019

a cat sitting next to a window: Witton Road Islamic Centre

Witton Road Islamic Centre
© Other

Counter-terrorism police in the West Midlands are investigating attacks on five mosques in Birmingham overnight.

Police responded to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at the Jame Masjid in Birchfield Road at 2.32am, but when they arrived at the scene they discovered the attack had taken place some time earlier.

Around 42 minutes later, police were alerted to a similar attack at a mosque in Slade Road, Erdington.

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Patrols were stepped up across the city and officers discovered further damage at places of worship in Witton Road, Aston, and on Broadway in Perry Barr.

A further investigation was launched after pictures emerged on social media showing smashed windows at the Mosque and Muslim Community Centre in Albert Road, Aston.

The motive behind the attacks remains unknown but West Midlands Police said it is believed they are linked.

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The force said forensic teams are at the scenes collecting evidence and officers are examining CCTV in the areas.

West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit is also involved in the investigation.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: "Deeply concerning & distressing to see number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham overnight.

"@WMPolice are investigating motive but let me be clear - hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted."

Adil Parkar, from the Birmingham Council of Mosques, told Sky News he was "appalled" by theĀ attacks, but not "surprised" they had taken place.

"We expected something like this to happen. We spoke to the police who have been very upfront and forthcoming.

"Every time there is an incident around the world we do get idiots coming around and doing these things.

"Our congregation is worried. Parents whose kids come to our mosques every evening are taken aback by what's going on.

"There is fear, anger and scepticism about what the government is doing about the security of our mosques right now."

He appealed to the Muslim community to remain "calm", adding: "We all need to be united on this front to make sure this does not go beyond what is vandalism at this minute."

Councillor Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council leader, said there is no room in the city for "hate and Islamophobia".

"This is a city built on tolerance and I'm proud of the fact that everyone is accepted in Birmingham regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality," he said.

"As we saw with last week's tragic events in Christchurch, Islamophobia is a poison that cannot go unchallenged.

"As a city it is important that we call out discrimination and intolerance in any form and we will continue to do so."

The city council's community safety boss, Councillor John Cotton, tweeted: "Appalled to see that Birmingham mosques have been the target of vandalism and violence overnight."

He added: "These thugs do not speak for Birmingham & will not divide us."

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: "Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand, officers and staff from West Midlands Police have been working closely with our faith partners across the region to offer reassurance and support at mosques, churches and places of prayer.

"At the moment we don't know the motive for last night's attacks.

"What I can say is that the force and the Counter-Terrorism Unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible.

"At difficult times like this, it is incredibly important that everyone unites against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities."

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