Police are ongoing an investigation into a series of mosque attacks in Birmingham which left five religious buildings vandalised. West Midlands Police have confirmed that security at mosques in Birmingham will be increased for Friday prayers.
Windows of five mosques – four in Aston and one in Erdington – were smashed as counter-terrorism officers continue to investigate.
The Witton Islamic Centre was one of five religious centres which had their glass windows and doors knocked out in a series of attacks.
The Faizul Islam Masjid on the nearby Broadway was also attacked, followed by the Jamia Masjid Ghousia on nearby Albert Road.
Mosques on Birchfield Road and Slade Road and Erdington were also targeted.
We await to see whether West Midlands Police will stage any kind of appeal or give more information later today.
West Midlands Police 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.
“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.”
Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Louisa Rolfe, said: “I would like to urge the public: if you know about these incidents, if someone has boasted about it; if you’ve got any information, please come forward, contact police.
“We are speaking to all faith leaders about the support we can offer.
“We can provide a review of security at any place of worship.
“We monitor [terror attack] fears and concerns constantly.
“This is the first incident since February 1 that has affected any place of worship across the West Midlands.
“[Muslim community] has our support.
“They should feel safe and secure in their places of worship.
“They have the full support of West Midlands Police and our Counter Terrorism Unit.
“We’ve got patrol plans ready around places of worship and we will be stepping that up to make sure people feel safe and secure for Friday prayers tomorrow.
“There is nothing to suggest that there is a greater threat in Birmingham than anywhere else at the moment.
“There will, of course, be a heightened vigilance from police and our communities because of what’s happened.”
Birmingham City Council community safety boss Councillor John Cotton has said the “thugs” responsible for the mosque attacks “do not speak for Birmingham and will not divide us”.
He later added: “Like all right-thinking Brummies, I condemn what has happened and these people do not speak for Birmingham.
“This is a city built on tolerance and mutual respect.
“We need to stand together on this, we’re not going to be divided by a few extremists who want to send their messages of hate out and tear down what is great and cohesive city.
“We’ve got to remember that this is a city home to many diverse communities and we all work really well together.”
Senior politicians including home secretary Sajid Javid, who have all condemned the Birmingham mosque attacks. He tweeted: “Deeply concerning and distressing to see number of mosques have been vandalised in Birmingham overnight.
“West Midlands Police are investigating motive but let me be clear – hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in our society and will never be accepted.”
“West Midlands Police are investigating the motive and I’m confident they will bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Let me be clear – hateful behaviour has absolutely no place in society and will never be accepted.
“These places of worship are at the heart of the community and play a vital role in making Britain the strong and vibrant country we live in.
“Earlier this week I announced we will be doubling next year’s Places of Worship protective security scheme fund to £1.6m – and investing £5m in security training at places of worship such as mosques.
“We will also be consulting communities on what more could and should be done to ensure they feel safe.”
Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood was in Birmingham yesterday to visit mosques that had been targeted.
She said: “The attacks on mosques across Birmingham are both frightening and heartbreaking; and while those affected will feel both anger and sadness, I would urge all residents to remain calm. The actions of those responsible shows people at their worst, but the response from people across our city shows people at their best – compassionate, caring and unified.
“This afternoon, I will be joining people from our local communities to visit each of the places affected by today’s attacks. I have spoken with the Chief Constable, and ask anyone who thinks they may have any information to call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111.
“Events such as these underscore how much work there remains to be done to confront the normalisation of hate speech and Islamophobia in our political discourse, in our media and across our society.
“We all have a role to play, just as we all have an interest in making sure every community is capable of living together respectfully.
“This is the message coming out of my home city of Birmingham today, and one that we must continue to push, even in the face of terrible attacks such as today.”