Police Probe 5 Mosque Attacks in Central England

Thursday, 21 March, 2019 - 17:30
London- Asharq Al-Awsat

Counter-terrorism officers in central England are investigating attacks on five mosques in which windows were apparently shattered by a sledgehammer.

The attacks in Birmingham are being treated as linked. No motive has been established.

"At the moment we don't know the motive for last night's attacks," said Chief Constable Dave Thompson in a statement.

"What I can say is that 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 Thursday to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at one of the places of worship, police said.

The incidents in Birmingham come just days after an attacker killed 50 worshippers in two mosques in New Zealand. The attack last week prompted many leaders in the UK to reach out to Muslims and offer support and reassurance.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid says that the Birmingham attacks are "deeply concerning."

In a tweet, Javid stressed that "hateful behavior has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted."

Birmingham City Council cabinet member Waseem Zaffar wrote on Twitter that the community "will fight back against any hate and division with love, peace, and harmony."

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

Anti-racism groups have warned 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".

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

Mahmoud said he was targeted Monday while returning home from a solidarity event for the New Zealand massacre with other religious leaders, as well as Javid and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

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