SLEDGEHAMMER attacks on five mosques across Birmingham have left Muslims in the city fearing a New Zealand-esque shooting as grim CCTV footage showed a thug smashing windows before fleeing by foot.
Windows were found smashed at places of worship across the city in the early hours of this morning, less than a week after a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch left 50 dead and dozens injured.
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They are trying to divide communities, its about politics and religion but we need to and show we’re not going to retaliate to mindless acts of violence, discrimination and intolerance towards Muslims
Naib Hussain, Secretary of Mosque and Muslim Community Centre in Aston
Cops were first called at 2.32am today to reports of a man smashing windows with a sledgehammer at a mosque on Birchfield Road.
Police were then alerted 45 minutes later to a similar attack at Jam-E-Masjid in Erdington.
On patrols in areas with mosques they then came across further damage at Witton Islamic Centre and two other centres.
Horrifying footage obtained by ITV appears to show a hooded man carrying a heavy bag down an empty road before he smashes something against a wall and sprints away into the night.
The clip was filmed in Broadway in Perry Barr, where Masjid Faizul Islam was also found with smashed windows in the early hours of this morning.
The motive behind the attacks, which are being treated as linked, is yet to be established but West Midlands Police and the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit are investigating.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “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.
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
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson
“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.”
Birmingham councillor Majid Mahmood earlier tweeted a video of a clean-up operation in progress at the Witton Islamic Centre, and called on police for Muslim worshippers to be given more support.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said it is “deeply concerning and distressing to see a number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham” and says “hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society”.
‘WE STAND TOGETHER’
Khalid Mahmood, President of Jam-E-Masjid in Erdington, said he arrived at the mosque within ten minutes of the police calling him at 3.15am this morning.
“Someone had obviously smashed the windows with a massive hammer or big tool,” he told The Sun Online.
“They didn’t try to get in – I think it was just to try to intimidate us.”
Mr Mahmood said the windows had since been boarded up until they get fixed, but he was adamant that the mosque would remain open.
“Those people won’t stop us,” he said.
“We will stay open regardless of what people have in their minds. We’ll carry on with our daily lives.”
The 60-year-old he had called West Midlands Police to boost security on the day of the Christchurch attack.
He added: “In general we live in a very decent, very good community of all faiths. We stand together.”
Sharafat Ali, the Imam of Witton Islamic Centre, told Birmingham Live that around seven windows and two doors were smashed between 1.30am and 2am this morning.
“It’s terrible, the community is shocked because of what’s happened in New Zealand,” he said.
“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.
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“We are asking the police to give us more security.”
On Tuesday Greater Manchester Police confirmed they had arrested seven trolls over sick social media posts after the attack. A man in Wales has also been arrested over a similar offence.
Anyone with information has been asked to contact police via Live Chat between 8am and midnight, via 101 any time, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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