UK mosque fireworks attack 'sickening', says Newcastle mayor

Newcastle's first minority mayor was 'scared and infuriated' after the attack

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Men pray at the Suleymaniye Mosque in East London on March 1, 2019 in London, England. This weekend is Visit My Mosque 2019 where the general public are invited by the Muslim Council Of Great Britain into participating mosques across the UK.  People of all faiths and no faith are welcome with the idea to build bridges in communities and foster good relations. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Mayor of Newcastle, Habib Rahman, said an attack on his mosque by youths shouting racist abuse and throwing fireworks was "absolutely sickening".

Mr Rahman, whose father was killed in a racist attack in Newcastle in 1977, said worshippers were nearly struck by rockets thrown at the building by up to eight teenagers on Saturday evening.

He became the city's first mayor of minority descent when he was appointed in May.

Mr Rahman said he heard the sizzle of a rocket being lit and saw it aimed directly at people entering the mosque, with one narrowly missing an elderly man, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

He said the youths then fled and hurled racist abuse at him, telling him to "go back where you came from".

He called the police then heard more fireworks being let off as he was inside praying, and confronted the group as he left the mosque.

Mr Rahman was then subjected to more insults and had a rocket aimed at him, while several more were fired towards worshippers and at the mosque, he said.

"It was a horrible situation, it was absolutely sickening," he said. "I was scared and it has infuriated me to the core.

"Where on Earth have these kids picked up these bigoted, racist thoughts? Muslim people have been living in this area since long before these kids were born.

"They have contributed and continue to contribute in so many ways to making the area better for us all. When I came home I told my sons that if they ever behaved in that kind of way then I would disown them."

Insp Andrew Stephenson, of Northumbria Police, said: "This type of behaviour, committed by the overwhelming minority, is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

"Not only have they damaged property but they could have seriously injured someone."

Updated: September 6th 2021, 10:07 PM
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