LONDON: The latest Islamophobic vandalism targeting various mosques in the English city of Birmingham is “deeply concerning”, British home secretary said on Thursday.
“Deeply concerning & distressing to see number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham overnight,” Sajid Javid said in a Twitter message.
He said West Midlands police are investigating the incidents, adding “but let me be clear – hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society & will never be accepted.”
Earlier, a statement from West Midland police said they have launched an investigation into vandalism targeting four mosques overnight and a fifth one on Thursday morning.
Police in Birmingham were notified in the early hours Thursday of a man smashing the windows of a mosque with a sledgehammer, but when officers arrived at the scene the alleged perpetrator could not be found, according to the statement.
“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,” said Dave Thompson, chief of the West Midlands police.
Shortly after the first attack, the police were notified of similar attacks at various locations throughout the city and they began patrols in areas with mosques and a large Muslim presence.
Counter-terrorism units are working to find the perpetrator and the motive behind the attack, said Thompson.
– ‘Not to be tolerated’
The police also called on the community to unite against such attacks and not allow anyone to sow fear and discord.
“Attacks of this nature have no place in our community and will not be tolerated. I want to reassure people that West Midlands Police is doing all it can to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said David Jamieson, West Midlands police and crime commissioner.
Birmingham is Britain’s second-largest city and includes the U.K.’s largest Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist communities outside of London.
At least 50 Muslims were killed and as many injured when a terrorist — identified as Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, 28, — entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and targeted those inside with gunfire, including four children under age 18 shot dead in cold blood.
The last three years have seen a sharp rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime in the U.K.
In 2018, there were over 1,200 reports of Islamophobic attacks, a 26 percent surge from the previous year.
Islamophobic incidents have risen significantly due to a number of factors such as Brexit and the proliferation of far-right groups manipulating peoples’ misconceptions on immigration and faith.
Such incidents saw a spike in the wake of the deadly Christchurch terror attack of last week.
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.” (AA)