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Children locked in mosque after delivery of malicious letter and white powder

24th Nov 2017

Harun Nasrullah

Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre was put on lockdown with children inside after staff received a threatening letter containing white powder on November 4.

Officers put a cordon around the building and firefighters in protective suits were pictured at the scene as they worked to assess the powder.

Dozens of young children were attending morning classes at the Centre’s school when staff discovered the hand-delivered note, which reportedly included an image of a skull and crossbones.

The substance was later identified as baking powder. It was the latest in a string of attacks aimed at the mosque, after a box of pork meat was delivered two weeks ago.

A spokesman for Didsbury Mosque, Dr Faizan Awan, said: “There was a Qur’an class for boys and girls between eight and 15 years old. At 11.30am a letter was hand-delivered to the postbox and was being opened upstairs with the other post when we found it contained a skull and crossbones and a loose white powder.”

He added, “Because the mosque has had similar attacks before we called the police. The children were kept inside the classrooms and were not allowed to leave to go into the public areas. Members of the community were offering food and drink but the police said nothing was allowed in.”

“Parents were waiting outside to pick their children up and saw the police presence and the fire brigade and were quite frightened. The imam went out to reassure people and at 2 pm the substance was found to be baking powder. At 2.30pm the children were allowed out.”

A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Spokesperson confirmed they were treating the incident as a hate crime.

“Specialist officers attended the address and the contents of the package were examined. The substance was found not to be noxious or harmful”, said a GMP Spokesperson.

He told The Muslim News the incident along with malicious communications and suspicious packages sent to other locations this summer is being led by Counter Terrorism Policing North East Unit. “We are treating this incident as potentially linked to this series and Counter-Terrorism Policing North East are coordinating the police response working alongside detectives from Counter Terrorism Policing North West.”

Call for increased security funding as attacks on mosques more than double

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