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BRITISH Muslims called for police and government support in the fight against Islamophobia today after five Birmingham mosques were attacked with sledgehammers.
Counter-terrorism officers have launched an investigation after the buildings were targeted in a spate of window smashing attacks from the early hours of today morning.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain told the Star the incidents were “shocking” at a time where many Muslim institutions feel vulnerable following the massacre last week at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a white supremacist.
They said: “We will be reiterating our messages of vigilance and resilience to mosques up and down the country, and hope police forces and the government not only recognise the level of threat across the country, but work with Muslim groups to help tackle Islamophobia wherever it takes place.”
Adil Parker, of the Birmingham Council of Mosques, said they were “appalled but not shocked” by the vandalism.
He said: “It’s not been a week since what’s happened in New Zealand and we always expected some bigot to show themselves up. In 2019, we can’t be expected to live in fear.”
West Midlands Police force said forensic officers are working to identify evidence, that CCTV footage is being examined and extra security could be in place at Friday prayers.
A spokesperson for Witton Islamic Centre, which was targeted, said CCTV had filmed a man smashing windows at 1am today.
In a press conference outside the centre, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said that the culprit “will be hunted down relentlessly.”
Yousef Zaman, chairman of the Masjid Faizul Islam mosque which was also targeted, said: “There’s a fear factor now in that adults are saying they’re going to keep their children away from the mosque today because they’re worried that it’s not safe.
“But we’re not going to stop worship, we’re going to carry on as normal, we won’t let them win, we will defy them.”
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the motive for the Birmingham attacks were not yet known, but called for unity against “those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities.”
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said there is no room in the city for “hate and Islamophobia.”
He said: “Islamophobia is a poison that cannot go unchallenged. As a city it is important that we call out discrimination and intolerance in any form and we will continue to do so.”
Anti-racism campaigners have called for a change in media and political narratives to help tackle Islamophobia.
Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott MP said: “These mosque attacks are extremely worrying. Religiously aggravated offences are at a record high at the same time police numbers are at their lowest for decades. The horrific terrorist attack In New Zealand shows us that we must do all we can to protect vulnerable religious communities.”
And Stand Up To Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said: “The Birmingham and Christchurch attacks don’t happen in a vacuum. They take place in a context of hatred promoted by politicians and the media.
“There are also double standards regarding terrorism. When Isis-linked terror outrages occur there is rightly widespread condemnation, but when white supremacists carry out attacks on Muslims, there’s a reluctance to call it out as terrorism.”
Ms Dhalu also condemned the media’s habit of giving hate-mongers a platform, such as BBC Newsnight hosting far-right group Generation Identity less than 24 hours after the Christchurch attack.
“If we want to stop Islamophobia then we must stop politicians and media outlets that think it’s acceptable to incite hatred against Muslims and Islam.”
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