‘Christianophobia comes to the East End’

“A clergyman in East London has been kicked in the head by Asian youths, one of whom screamed the words ‘f——- priest’ at him. Police are treating the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth, vicar of Hawksmoor’s magnificent St George-in-the-East, Wapping, as a ‘faith hate’ crime. But was it? A lot hangs on the answer. Does the use of a single word automatically turn a savage but common assault into a new (and essentially artificial) category of crime, or has the tide of Islamic anti-Christian persecution reached these shores?

“… Tower Hamlets houses Muslim ghettos whose fundamentalist leaders are offended by the mere presence of a Christian place of worship in their community. The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme and a friend of Canon Ainsworth, reacted to the attack by calling for ‘condemnation of this cowardly behaviour by senior Muslims in the community’.”

Damian Thompson in the Daily Telegraph, 16 March 2008

For the response of local Muslim leaders to the attack, see the East London Advertiser, 17 March 2008

Update:  See also Inayat Bunglawala, “Jihad or alcohol?”, Comment is Free, 19 March 2008