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Home   Medway   News   Article

Man due in court after Gillingham mosque attacked in wake of Woolwich terror murder

23 May 2013
by KentOnline reporter

Damage inside a Gillingham mosque

Damage inside a Gillingham mosque hours after Lee Rigby's death

A 45-year-old man is due before magistrates after an attack on a mosque in Gillingham just hours after the terror murder of a soldier in Woolwich.

Andrew Grindlay, from Rochester, stands accused of religiously aggravated criminal damage and burglary.

He is due before Medway magistrates tomorrow.

It comes after a man ran into the Gillingham Mosque, in Canterbury Street, before smashing a window and a bookcase containing copies of the Koran last night.

Meanwhile, police have revealed extra officers are out in force patrolling "vulnerable areas", including places of worship and near Army barracks.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge

Speaking earlier today, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge confirmed the force has met with senior county military figures to draw up a plan to minimise the threat of attacks in the coming days.

Mr Beautridge said: "I think it's fair to say the events of yesterday have shocked not just the residents of Kent, but the country and internationally.

"Woolwich is near Kent and I can understand it would've caused a great deal of concern in our communities. 

"We've put additional resources on patrol in certain areas of the county to provide a visible presence to reassure communities. 
 
"People know that if there are any attacks we will treat it with absolute zero tolerance and stamp down on it hard. We've got a very proud record of keeping this county safe and we'll continue with that. 
 
"What we're doing is putting additional patrols in areas that may be vulnerable - places of worship, where military personnel assemble - as the public would expect us to do.
 
"We're liaising very closely in respect of ensuring the safety of everybody. I've had a meeting this morning with a senior officer in the military to look at how we can work together effectively in the next few days."
 
Mr Beautridge added: "We're used to dealing with higher threat situations whilst maintaining a good quality of service to the people of Kent. That's what residents expect us to do." 
 
Mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, was attacked in the wake of the Woolwich murder

Mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, was attacked in the wake of the Woolwich murder

The mosque attack was just hours after the murder of an off-duty serving soldier who was hacked to death by suspected Islamist extremists in Woolwich, south east London.

Video footage shows one of the alleged attackers covered in blood, holding a meat cleaver and saying he carried out the attack because British soldiers kill Muslims every day.

Two suspects, believed to have Nigerian backgrounds, were shot at the scene and are under armed guard in separate hospitals.

Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti

Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti

Prime Minister David Cameron today declared the brutal  murder of a "brave soldier" will bring the UK together and "make us stronger" - and said the best response was for everyone to go about their normal lives.

Earlier, MP Rehman Chishti, who is Muslim and represents Gillingham and Rainham, called for calm in the wake of the mosque attack.

He said the "horrific attack" should not "divide our community and drive us apart".

Mr Chishti said: "Whilst we do not yet fully know whether the incident at the mosque in Gllingham was motivated by this, I appeal for calm.

“We should not let this horrific attack in Woolwich divide our community and drive us apart.

"A callous act of two individuals does not in any way represent the views of the many from all different communities.

"Medway's diverse community has integrated well over many decades and I know that will remain the case. Those individuals responsible for this callous murder should face the severest sentence possible from our courts."

He added he is arranging a visit to Gillingham by communities secretary Eric Pickles in "the next few days" in a bid to calm fears of reprisal attacks.

 

Video: Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge speaks of 'zero tolerance' to reprisal attacks

The leader of Canterbury's Muslim Cultural Centre said his members fear revenge attacks - and has told his members to be wary about going out at night.

Raschid Sohawon, who runs the centre in Giles Lane, said: "I am appalled and disgusted that this was apparently done in the name of our religion.

"When things like this happen it obviously makes us anxious and cautious.

"These people have their own selfish agenda and ambitions but it is damaging the relationships we have been successfully building with the community and the understanding of our faith.

"We do not allow anyone with extremist views to preach at the centre, but it is only a tiny minority who hold such views.

"We can only express our sympathy to the family over their great loss."

Canterbury Muslim Cultural Centre leader Raschid Sohawon

Canterbury Muslim Cultural Centre leader Raschid Sohawon

 

Meanwhile, Kent is on high alert today with extra security at Army bases and a heightened police presence across the county.

Several police cars blocked the entrace of Maidstone's Army barracks last night.

Three vehicles were parked outside the Invicta Park Barracks, off Royal Engineer's Road, from about 5.30pm. Patrols were reduced to one vehicle at just before 10pm. 

An MoD spokesman for Kent said today: "Security at the barracks and bases throughout the region is maintained at an appropriate level to the current risk and threat assessment."

Police block road at Maidstone army barracks

Police block road at Maidstone army barracks

Kent Police said officers are providing a "visible presence across the county" after the suspected terrorist attack at about 2.20pm.

The force said it has "additional resources across the region to provide a presence in potentially vulnerable communities".

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: "We are working with local communities and partners whilst the Metropolitan Police investigate the full circumstances around this incident.

"We are providing high visibility policing in areas across Kent and would appeal for people to stay calm and work with us to ensure the safety of everyone in our county."

Police outside a Gillingham mosque after an attack

Police outside a Gillingham mosque after an attack

Police confirmed they were called to a report of criminal damage at the mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, at 8.40pm yesterday.

Officers arrested a man at 8.44pm on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage. 

Police officers remained at the scene for several hours.

Azeem Nader, general secretary of the mosque, said they were still trying to establish what exactly had happened.

He said: "A window was smashed and a bookcase was damaged and smashed which contained Korans in them.

"A window was smashed and a bookcase was damaged and smashed which contained Korans in them..." - Azeem Nader

"I think somebody arrived at the mosque and then called the police. They apprehended the man. 

"We've cleaned up the mess and made temporary repairs. We're aware of what's happened in Woolwich but whether it's linked or not we can't say."

On the Woolwich murder, he said: "It's shocking. Nobody in their right mind would support anybody doing such a thing. I was shocked people would do such a thing. 

"This is not what the vast majority of Muslims would consider as a reasonable thing to do in any way shape or form. 

"We consider ourselves to be a peaceful community that tries to get on with our daily lives."

 Scenes from suspected terrorist murder in Woolwich yesterday

Scenes from suspected terrorist murder in Woolwich yesterday

Steve Craddock, former Royal Engineer and Medway’s Help for Heroes co-ordinator, said he felt "shock and horror" when he heard about what had happened.

According to reports, the soldier was wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt when he was attacked.

Mr Craddock said: "I just can't understand how anyone, no matter what people's political views are, how anyone can kill somebody in the first place, but the way in which they actually did it was beyond humanity.

"It was the most terrifying thing just thinking about it makes me think about what was going through that poor lad’s mind as this was happening and the thoughts of his family knowing how he died and thinking they can"t be there to protect this young man.

"The last time I saw anything like that was in the late 80s when two young soldiers from Northern Ireland were pulled from their vehicle by a big mob.

"In this country we are used to terrorism. We have seen it for over 30 years, but when it is people who are prepared to do something on television and are happy for people to photograph them, it is beyond comprehension.

Canterbury MP Julian Brazier today admitted the invasion of Iraq and "botched" rebuilding of the country has helped fuel hatred against Britain by some extremists.

Mr Brazier, a former Territorial Army member, said: "The horrible and bloodthirsty attack on the soldier is shocking. 
 
Canterbury MP Julian Brazier

Canterbury MP Julian Brazier

"I fully support our current British foreign policy, but we have to accept that our botched actions in Iraq, which resulted in images of dead civilians, have had a role in radicalising young Muslims.
 
"But I also condemn any reprisal attacks on mosque or Muslims. We know the vast majority of the Muslim community is peaceful, but bloodshed on the streets of Britain is just what extremists want to see. 
 
"I did not agree with the video of the killer talking to the camera being shown on television. It just gave the extremists more oxygen. it was like 'now let's here from the killer'."
 
Mr Brazier said he was frustrated by judges who had blocked or delayed moves to remove preachers of hate and terror from the country.
 
He said: "They have just allowed the worse form of extremism to flourish."

 

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