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Man jailed for sectarian attack on 5 Birmingham mosques

27th Dec 2019
Man jailed for sectarian attack on 5 Birmingham mosques

Harun Nasrullah

A man of Iranian descent who smashed five mosques in a sectarian two-hour rampage was jailed for three years and nine months on five counts of religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Sentencing Arman Rezazadeh of Handsworth, Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been “motivated by religious hatred” and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims. The 34-year-old sparked a major manhunt anti-terror police on March 21 by causing at least £11,500 worth of damage to Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.

Rezazadeh handed himself to the police a day after the attacks and explained that he had attacked “Satan’s houses.”

Rezazadeh, who has a history of mental health problems linked to the use of cannabis, had been drinking alcohol to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks. He then struck at five places of worship, initially using a sledgehammer and then a golf club.

After Rezazadeh had handed himself in and confessed to being behind the attacks, it became clear that he had serious mental health issues and he was not arrested, instead, he was committed to the care of a hospital.

While at the hospital, Rezazadeh denied being responsible for the damage, despite CCTV, DNA and mobile phone cell-site evidence linking him to the offences.

It also emerged in court that he had told an interviewer while being treated as an in-patient in April that he thought there may be a religious significance to the number of windows that had been broken.

As well as denying that the man caught on CCTV looked like him, Rezazadeh said he had only confessed to “expose” false religious teachings. Chambers told Rezazadeh his mental health problems were self-induced by cannabis use,

“You were motivated by your religious hatred; you being of the Shia faith and the mosques being Sunni Muslim mosques. The harm, in this case, has been extremely substantial – the impact on the local and wider Muslim community has been huge.”

“Clearly this offending was planned and premeditated. You selected your targets, you went out in dark, disguised clothing, and you went armed with a sledgehammer and another weapon. This is on any view a religious hate crime. It’s not suggested otherwise, nor could it be so.”

Victim impact statements were read to the court before the sentence was passed, in which mosque officials said security had since been stepped up. Javid Iqbal of Witton Islamic Centre stated: ‘When I think back to what has happened and see the events on CCTV, it does make me more concerned that had someone been there, they would have been confronted by someone wielding a sledgehammer. Someone could have been seriously hurt.’

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