Muslims at a mosque feared an attack after a teenager daubed graffiti outside the building following the killing of soldier Lee Rigby, a court heard.
Worshippers at Oadby Central Mosque believed they could be assaulted after “EDL” – a reference to the English Defence League – was scrawled on a charity clothing bin outside the building.
Prosecutor Safina Desai told Leicester Youth Court yesterday how the 17-year-old graffiti vandal wrote “EDL” on the bin in Sandhurst Street days after the attack on Mr Rigby in London on May 22.
In a victim statement read out in court, Muhammed Katib, chairman of Oadby Central Mosque, which is also a community centre, told how Muslims were in fear of being attacked. He said: “This really rang alarm bells.” After the killing of Mr Rigby, mosques had been set on fire.
“We were on red alert and very concerned about what had happened,” said Mr Katib. “We were fearful that the mosque would be damaged or set on fire or people would be attacked.” Mr Katib told how the mosque was watched 24 hours a day for a while, and worshippers stayed away for fear of being targeted.
Mrs Desai said the defendant, who is from Oadby and cannot be named because of his age, was arrested after police identified his “tag” – a signature – on the graffiti. When his home was searched, police found pens that matched the colour of the graffiti on the bin.
Mrs Desai said the teenager admitted he had scrawled the graffiti. “He told police he had heard about what had happened in London and did not like it,” she said. “He wanted to do something about it. He was aware that the centre was used as a mosque.”
Mrs Desai told the court that the teenager had already scrawled “EDL” on the windows of the centre and on the same charity clothes bin on May 13. She said Mr Katib had dismissed that graffiti as a “one-off” event, but was very alarmed after the second attack.
The teenager pleaded not guilty to two charges of racially-aggravated criminal damage on May 13 and between June 6 and 11. He was convicted of both offences after a two-day trial at Leicester Youth Court on September 17.
Alan Mee, representing the teenager at the sentencing hearing yesterday, said the 17-year-old regretted what he had done. The teenager said: “I am sorry if I caused any grief or fear or anything.”
Chairman of the bench Bruce Chater gave the teenager a 12-month rehabilitation order with supervision. The youth is to be electronically tagged for two months and must observe a curfew between 9pm and 7am every day.
Mr Chater told the teenager: “I think on reflection you understand what you did and how something like this affected the community.”