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Mosque worshippers set upon by sticks and bottles wielding gang

29th Apr 2022
Mosque worshippers set upon by sticks and bottles wielding gang
Group of men kicking the Sri Lankan Muslim Community of East London gate (Credit: SLMC/CCTV footage)

Nadine Osman & Ahmed J Versi

 

Two Muslim worshippers were injured in a racially aggravated assault at around 9 pm on April 19 outside the Sri Lankan Muslim Centre (SLMC), aka Masjid Bilal, in East Ham, East London.

The attack was carried out by a gang carrying bottles and hockey sticks. It took place as worshippers were going inside for iftar (fast-breaking meal) during Ramadan. Two trustee members suffered minor injuries from broken glass.

Eyewitnesses said there were around 15 “European males” armed with “wooden poles, beer bottles, fluorescent light tubes, and stones.”

Nausad Aboosaly, Secretary of SLMC told The Muslim News he is certain the attack was Islamophobically motivated.Aboosaly said the incident happened after Maghreb prayers and iftar, when most of the Muslims had left. Only six people were in the SLMC.

He recalled hearing banging outside the gate. He went to find out what was happening and when he asked the group of men what they wanted, they spat at him.

“I was very shocked,” he said. It was then that two trustees approached the men outside the gate when they were set upon and kicked.

“They were shouting, screaming, and banging on the gate, waving and smacking hockey sticks about. They kicked our fellow trustees and spat at me. They were shouting and using many abusive words”
Aboosaly said the attack has left the community fearful, with fewer worshippers attending Taraweeh (night) prayers.

“People are now hesitant to come to the mosque. We usually have women and children for Taraweeh prayers every night. But they feel scared. If you heard about bottles getting thrown, you’d be scared.

There are fewer people. We used to be overcrowded. We have a big car park, but now very few cars are parked there. Now there are noticeably fewer people, particularly for the last ten days of Ramadan, which are usually packed.”

A bin containing paper was set on fire outside the mosque in Pilgrims Way, East Ham. The mosque’s rear and lady entrance gates were also damaged.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that officers were investigating “a report of racially aggravated common assault following an incident outside a mosque in East Ham”.
“Police were called to reports that a group of men in Pilgrims Way, armed with bottles and hockey sticks, had attacked members of the mosque,” the spokesman said.

“One suspect is said to have set alight some paper in a bin outside the mosque. The suspects fled before the police arrived.Officers searched the area but found no trace of the suspects. Several people suffered minor injuries but did not require medical treatment.”

Additional patrols in the area have also been established, and no arrests have been made.
Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, branded the incident “shameful”.

Has Ahmed, a Conservative candidate in the upcoming local council elections in Redbridge, East London, called the attack “appalling.”

“Appalled by this attack on innocent worshipers who were just leaving prayers in Ramadan,” he tweeted. “That could have been any one of our family members. I hope those sick individuals are caught and feel the full force of the law.”

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