New South Wales: fear of escalating violence after mosque attack

Newcastle mosque attackAn attack on a Newcastle mosque, trapping seven worshippers inside, has been caught on security camera.

The attack happened only minutes after a group of children had finished a scripture class and is the latest in a series of incidents that have left the city’s Muslim community feeling “vulnerable and scared”.

In the security footage, which has been provided to police, two tattooed men are seen to approach the Wallsend mosque about 9.30pm on Monday. One man, with a large tattoo of a cross on his neck, kicks through the fence gate and hurls an object at the mosque’s front door. Then he runs and smashes a flying kick into the door. More objects are thrown at the building and one of the men is seen to shout what appears to be abuse.

Newcastle Muslim Association vice-president Diana Rah said seven worshippers were inside the mosque at the time and managed to lock the main entrance on the side of the building. The two men tried to kick through this entrance but were unsuccessful, she said. Ms Rah said a group of children left the mosque after an evening scripture class only minutes before the men arrived.

Newcastle police Chief Inspector Dean Olsen said the attack was being investigated. He called for anyone with information to come forward.

Ms Rah said incidents against the mosque had increased in the past three months. Garbage had been thrown across the mosque’s front lawn and the fence had been broken down on another occasion. In April, an envelope containing photographs of three slaughtered pigs was left at the mosque’s doorstep. The pigs had been half-buried on land where a new mosque was to be built.

Last month the word “Srebrenica” was sprayed in graffiti across a neighbour’s car parked outside the mosque. Srebrenica is the name of the town where 8000 Muslims were massacred in July 1995 during the Bosnian war. The association had also received abusive emails and threats.

Ms Rah said that in the past 20 years there had been only a handful of isolated incidents directed at the Wallsend mosque. But since the association had made plans to establish its mosque at Elermore Vale, the incidents had increased and were “starting to become a pattern”.

Ms Rah said the Newcastle Muslim Association had “a lot of faith in the wider Newcastle community” and knew the majority were not responsible for the “unacceptable” acts.

The association had installed a high-tech security camera system.

Newcastle Herald, 5 January 2012

Update:  See “Violent Newcastle mosque attack condemned”,, January 2011