Birmingham mosque attacks probed by terrorism officers

29th Mar 2019

Nadine Osman

Counter Terrorism police in Birmingham are investigating the sledgehammer attacks on five mosques in the early hours of March 21. The attacks in Birmingham are the latest in a series of far-right incidents to hit the country following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which a gunman killed 50 Muslims in two mosques on March 15.

“Since the tragic events in Christchurch, 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,” said West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson in a statement.

In Manchester, police say they had been informed of several incidents connected to the New Zealand terror attack. And in Surrey, a far-right terror suspect is being held under anti-terror laws after police revealed he shouted far-right slogans before stabbing a 19-year-old victim on March 16.

West Midlands Police has confirmed Witton Road Islamic Centre was among the mosques in Birmingham attacked. Reports of a man smashing windows with the tool on Birchfield Road were received at 2.30 am, police said. Officers were then alerted to a similar attack on Slade Road, Erdington, about 45 minutes later. The damage is being linked to further attacks on mosques in Aston and Perry Barr, West Midlands Police said. Pictures and videos have begun to emerge on social media, and the police have begun an investigation.

Forensic officers are working to identify evidence, and CCTV is being examined. The motive behind the attacks, which are being treated as linked, is yet to be established. A video posted on Twitter by Birmingham Councillor Majid Mahmood showed a clean-up operation in progress. West Midlands Police confirmed the attack and said at least one other location had been targeted. A spokesperson for Witton Islamic Centre said CCTV captures a man smashing windows at about 1.30 am. “The whole of the front windows, about six, was smashed,” he said. “Because of the force he used it’s gone through the windows and into the mosque itself”.

In a statement to The Muslim News Birmingham Council of Mosques said: “We were deeply horrified to hear a number of mosques were vandalised during the early hours of this morning. Birmingham’s mosques are a place of worship, serenity and a source of peace and tranquillity. We are appalled by such acts of hate/terror.”

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, tweeted ‘The reports of attacks on mosques across Birmingham are truly terrible. I have spoken with the Chief Constable & will be in constant contact with community leaders throughout the day. I would urge all residents to remain calm & call Crime Stoppers with any info you may have.’

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says it is “deeply concerning and distressing to see a number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham” adding “hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society.”

Surrey, Rochdale and Oldham far-right incidents

A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over the incident in Stanwell, Surrey, on March 16, which has been declared a terrorist incident. Detective Superintendent Nigel Doak, of Counter-Terrorism Policing South East, said the teenage victim is southern European “may have been targeted due to his ethnic appearance.”

The incidents had the “hallmarks of a terrorist event. It is believed that the offender made racial comments and statements promoting extreme far right-views before carrying out the attack.”

Searches have been carried out at a house in Viola Avenue, Stanwell, and a cordon remained in place. The suspect is being held under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and police have been granted a warrant of further detention, allowing them to question him until March 23 without charge. The victim sustained serious injuries to his hands, going into a McDonalds to seek help and being taken to hospital.

A man and a woman in Rochdale were charged after a taxi driver allegedly suffered Islamophobic abuse from passengers, who referenced the terrorist attacks on the Christchurch mosques.

Sean Allen, 33, and Natalie Rudman, 34, were charged with a public order offence after an incident on March 17, Greater Manchester Police announced. Officers had attended the scene in Queensway, on the outskirts of the town, just before 12.20 am.

GMP said it had been responding to a report that passengers had referenced the Christchurch terror attacks while threatening a taxi driver. Allen, from Collyhurst and Rudman, from Heywood, were bailed to appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on April 9.

Greater Manchester Police, Assistant Chief Constable Jackson, branded the behaviour “disgusting” adding that Greater Manchester Police have had “a small number of incidents where people have either posted or made remarks referencing the horrible events in New Zealand, particularly online where people often think it is acceptable to abuse others.”

In Oldham, a 24-year-old man was arrested by over a Facebook supporting the Christchurch attacks. He was held on suspicion of sending malicious communications. He was later bailed pending further inquiries.

Mainstream media radicalise far right, says UK anti-terror chief

Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has criticised the hypocrisy of mainstream newspaper coverage such as Mail Online which uploaded the “manifesto” of the Christchurch gunman while repeatedly criticising the likes of Facebook and Google for hosting extremist content.
The Sun and the Mirror both uploaded clips of footage filmed by the gunman.

Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, the UK’s head of counter-terror policing slammed the Mail Online, the world’s biggest news outlets for uploading Christchurch terrorist’s 74-page manifesto to its website and made the document, which included an explanation of his far-right ideology, available for users to download.

Basu said it was time to accept that many terrorists were being radicalised by mainstream news outlets, “The reality is that every terrorist we have dealt with has sought inspiration from the propaganda of others, and when they can’t find it on Facebook, YouTube, Telegram or Twitter they only have to turn on the TV, read the paper or go to one of a myriad of mainstream media websites struggling to compete with those platforms.”

He cited the 2017 terror attack in Finsbury Park in London as an example of where a man was “driven to an act of terror by far-right messaging he found mostly on mainstream media.”

Canadian Muslims relive fear and despair of Québec shooting post New Zealand mosque attacks

Children among 50 Muslims slaughtered in a far-right terror attack

Crusading Islamophobia: from Breivik to Brenton

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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