Five Mosques Vandalised in Central England

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The mosque in Erdington, Birmingham, on Thursday, with its windows boarded up after apparently being smashed with a sledgehammer. —  AP

Counter-terrorism officers are investigating attacks on the mosques in four different areas in the north of the city, West Midlands Police said in a statement.

LONDON (Agencies) — Five mosques in the central English city of Birmingham have been attacked overnight. And in one place, a man reportedly smashed windows with a sledgehammer, the police said on Thursday.

Counter-terrorism officers are investigating the attacks on the mosques in different areas in the north of the city, West Midlands Police said in a statement, adding that the incidents “are being treated as linked”.

“At the moment we don’t know the motive for last night’s attacks,” said Chief Constable Dave Thompson in a statement. “What I can say is that the force and the counter-terrorism unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible.”

Officers were first alerted in the early hours of Thursday to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at a place of worship, police said.

Following reports of a similar attack on another mosque in a nearby neighbourhood, officers launched targeted patrols and discovered “further damage” at two other sites.

CCTV being examined

“Forensic officers are working to identify evidence, and CCTV is being examined,” the West Midlands force said.

British national police chiefs last week announced officers were providing “reassurance patrols” around mosques in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly gun rampage in New Zealand.

Anti-racism groups have warned that Islamophobia is on the rise in Britain and spurring a spike in far-right activity in the country.

A report released last month by the Hope Not Hate charity cited a poll which found more than a third of Britons see Islam as “generally a threat to the British way of life”.

In another recent incident, Mohammed Mahmoud — an imam who won praise for shielding the perpetrator of a 2017 terror attack on a north London mosque — reported he was spat at and abused this week.

Mahmoud said he was targeted on Monday while returning home from a solidarity event for the New Zealand massacre with other religious leaders, as well as Home Secretary Sajid Javid and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid says that the Birmingham attacks are “deeply concerning.”

In a tweet, Javid stressed that “hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted.”

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