Birmingham mosques attacked with sledgehammers in late-night rampage leaving Muslim community shaken
"Incredibly important that everyone unites against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities," West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson
At least five mosques in Birmingham were attacked on Wednesday night and their windows smashed with a sledgehammer, prompting an anti-terror investigation and calls from imams for more police protection ahead of Friday prayers.
Reports state that seven windows and two doors were smashed in the late-night attack at the Witton Road Islamic Center in Witton. According to the imam of the mosque, the attack occurred between 1:30 am and 2 am. West Midlands Police also confirmed the reports saying that they were alerted to the attacks throughout the night, the Daily Mail reported.
Other mosques which were attacked on Wednesday night were on Albert Road, Birchfield Road, Slade Road, Witton Road and Broadway in Birmingham.
Police said they don't know whether the vandalism was carried out by a single person or a group. However, the attacks have left members of the Muslim community shaken, and many were wary of bringing their kids to the Friday prayers.
The motive behind the late-night rampage is yet to be confirmed, and the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit is probing the incident to get more details and find the perpetrators.
According to reports, officers were called to the Birchfield Road mosque at 2:32 am, they were alerted of a similar attack at the Slade Road mosque at 3:14 am. Shortly after the reports, officers began patroling areas with mosques and found the other places of worship that had been damaged in the attacks.
BREAKING: A fifth mosque has been attacked in Birmingham, after police confirmed four acts of vandalism overnight. Secretary of mosque on Albert Road says he believes windows were smashed in broad daylight this morning. @itvnews pic.twitter.com/mYI3MXgJ9g— Ben Chapman (@BenChapmanITV) March 21, 2019
Officials are examining CCTV clips to find the perpetrator while forensic officers are working to identify evidence.
Labour party Councillor for the Bromford and Hodge Hill ward, Majid Mahmood, posted footage of the damaged Witton mosque online, saying: "I said last week that Muslims were afraid after the terrorist attacks in Christchurch. We need support in Brum."
This is Albert Road mosque (Jamia Masjid Ghousia) that was attacked overnight in the Aston part of Birmingham.— Cllr Majid Mahmood 🌹 (@CllrMajid) March 21, 2019
I am here with the trustees and @WMPolice .
I understand from locals 5 mosques were attacked overnight with sledgehammers.
A disgusting attack on places of worship!! pic.twitter.com/F1aoMiEHj8
A terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week left 50 dead and dozens injured after gunman Brenton Tarrant, a self-identified white supremacist, opened fire on devotees gathered for prayers.
The imam of Witton Islamic Centre, Shrafat Ali, while talking to Birmingham Live, said: "Its terrible, the community is shocked because of what's happened in New Zealand. We've been here for 30 years. In the morning you get 40 worshippers for morning prayer, on Friday you get about two to three hundred. This doesn't happen in Aston. Tomorrow is Friday prayers and I don't know what's going up happen. We are asking the police to give us more security."
Home Secretary Sajid Javid took to Twitter to express his concern, writing: "Deeply concerning and distressing to see number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham overnight. @WMPolice are investigating motive but let me be clear — hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted."
#Birmingham: Police & 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. #Islamophobia is probable motive. #BirminghamMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/hsZSxCYHHm— The Hawks (@TheHawksOps) March 21, 2019
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson also released a statement in the wake of the attacks, saying: "Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand, 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."
"At the moment we don't know the motive for last night's attacks. What I can say is that the force and the Counter Terrorism Unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible. At difficult times like this, it is incredibly important that everyone unites against those who seek to create discord, uncertainty and fear in our communities," the police chief added.