Several mosques including Masjid-e-Usman in Bolton Lancashire were the building and nearby cars were vandalized following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby (left)
By Elham Asaad Buaras and Ahmed J Versi
A serving British soldier was hacked to death in a terrorist attack in Woolwich, London, on May 22 afternoon. Two suspects were shot and injured by the police. In the aftermath of the attack, mosques were attacked.
Witnesses described two men hacking a man with knifes and cleavers before dragging his body into the middle of the street ‘like a piece of meat’
One of the men suspected of killing Drummer Lee Rigby of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in broad daylight, Michael Adeboloja, attempted to justify the attack to a bystander who was filming him.
The film shows a man with bloodied hands and holding a knife and a cleaver discussing the killing with a member of the public filming him. In the video the man, wearing a grey hooded jacket and black woolly hat, apologises to people who witnessed the attack.
“I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our land our women have to see the same.
“We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” he says to unseen bystanders, as other people stand around in the background.
The suspected attackers did not attack any bystanders and even those who spoke to them.
The murder on John Wilson Street, Woolwich, has been described as a terrorist attack. Both suspects were under security surveillance according to Government reports.
The Muslim community across the UK condemned the terrorist attack. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called the attack as “barbaric” and one that has “no basis in Islam”.
“This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand that the victim is a serving member of the armed forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s armed forces, proudly and with honour,” said a statement from the MCB.
It adds: “This attack on a member of the armed forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder. We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do no prevail.”
Labour Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan MP, said he was “saddened and disappointed that that the alleged perpetrators of this awful attack could even associate themselves with our shared faith. This horrific murder has no basis in Islam.”
Prime Minister, David Cameron, said one should not blame Islam or Muslims for the terrorist attack. “It was also a betrayal of Islam – and of the Muslim communities who are give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
Meanwhile the terrorist attack in Woolwich has increased Islamophobic attacks against Muslims.
In Gillingham, Kent, a man ran into a local mosque and started smashing windows and bookcases. Meanwhile in Braintree, Essex, a man with a knife and explosive device walked into an Islamic Centre threatening worshippers. In Bolton, Lancashire, a mosque and a car were graffitied. In Milton Keynes a mosque was petrol bombed.
A 43-year-old man was in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into Al-Falah Islamic Centre Braintree, Essex, with a knife and a gas grenade just hours after the Woolwich murder.
Speaking to The Muslim News, Director of Al-Falah Islamic Centre (AIC) in Baintree, Abdul Ghafoor, described how “a white man entered the mosque just before afternoon (Asr) prayers with two knives and threw a gas grenade onto the carpet. There was one person upstairs eating who called the police who arrived very quickly and apprehended the attacker.”
According to Ghafoor, the worshipper was told by the attacker to “come down and see if Allah can protect you.”
Ghafoor said the worshippers were left “concerned and nervous” after the incident. He also said the Centre has never been subject to any attacks in the past.
AIC Secretary, Sikander Saleemy, said that he felt like it was a “revenge attack”.
Saleemy said: “The police said it’s too early to try and link it to what happened in Woolwich, but those of us who were here feel that it was some sort of revenge attack. It was clear from the man’s behaviour. We absolutely condemn what happened in Woolwich, but it had nothing to do with us.”
Meanwhile a man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage over an attack on Al-Falah Islamic Centre.
A window and bookcases containing the Qur’an on Canterbury Street site were smashed.
Gillingham Mosque General Secretary, Azeem Nader, said they were still trying to establish what exactly had happened.
He said: “A window was smashed and a bookcase was damaged and smashed which contained Qur’an in them.
“I think somebody arrived at the mosque and then called the police. They apprehended the man.
“We’ve cleaned up the mess and made temporary repairs. We’re aware of what’s happened in Woolwich but whether it’s linked or not, we can’t say. ”
Assistant Chief Constable of Kent police, Gary Beautridge, said: “We are working with local communities and partners whilst the Metropolitan Police investigate the full circumstances around this incident.”
Officers arrested a man at 8.44pm on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage.
Extremists vandalised Masjid-e-Usman, Bolton, Lancashire, by spraying graffiti on its walls and door at 3.10 am on May 23. The graffiti said, ‘Islam = Evil’. The vandals also sprayed graffiti on two cars parked nearby. It said, ‘Terrorist Inside’ and ‘Islam Evil’. One of the members of the Mosque told The Muslim News that he believed the vandalism was “because of the terrorist attack” in Woolwich as they have been attacks on the mosque before.
The police have launched an investigation and are working “very closely with community leaders and local mosques to offer reassurance.”
At around 11.30pm on May 23, a bottle containing flammable liquid was set alight and thrown onto the roof of the Zainabia Islamic Centre (ZIC), commonly known as the Granby Mosque in Peverel Drive. Members of the mosque were standing outside and quickly extinguished the fire.
There was no significant damage caused to the mosque.
President of ZIC, Shabir Sabur said: “Such acts committed by individuals or groups can never divide the nation. These criminals and terrorists must never be allowed to win.”
More than 100 supporters of the anti Islam English Defence League gathered in Woolwich near the scene of where the soldier was killed chanting anti-Muslim slogans and threw bottles at police.
The Muslim News was going to print during the early coverage of Lee Rigby’s murder for further developments please visit www.muslimnews.co.uk
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