Worshippers ‘scared’ to return to Redbridge mosque after attack

Worshippers are fearful of praying in their mosque late at night five months after it was attacked by four thugs, according to an imam who is calling for greater understanding between religions.

Imam Shafeel Begg had a brick hurled at him as he pursued a group who had just attacked Redbridge Islamic Centre, Eastern Avenue, Redbridge.

They tried to storm the mosque after taunting worshippers arriving for evening prayers with racist chants in March. Mr Begg is now calling for better communication between different religious groups to help prevent further attacks.

Speaking to the Recorder after four youths were last month convicted of violent disorder, Mr Begg said: “It was shocking for all, especially our elderly worshippers who used to pray at various times when the mosque was quiet, sometimes quite late at night. They’re too worried to continue doing so after what happened.”

Rocky Beale, 21, of Purleigh Avenue, Woodford Green, Eliot Jones, 19, of no fixed address, Matthew Stephenson, 18, of Burrow Road, Hainault and a 16-year-old who cannot be named because of his age, will all be sentenced on September 28.

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Two others were found innocent.

Mr Begg said: “I want to be there for the sentencing and I believe a precedent needs to be set with crimes like this.”

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He added: “I think the reason behind the attack could be both religious and racial and there needs to be more engagement between Muslims in the community.

“Local events and projects as well as social gatherings would allow for a greater understanding of Islam and I am hopefully going to encourage this as it is very important for people to understand other religions.”

Mr Begg, who received a cut to his ear when the brick was hurled at him, also expressed his thanks to the police and council for their support and described relations with them as “good”.

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