An attack at the Redbridge Islamic Centre last week has left the members shocked and fearful
The first thing Abdul Wahab heard, he says, was the shouting. “Muslim bastards; Paki bastards.” Unpleasant enough in the street. But no one expects to hear such things in a mosque.
What to do? Just six old men there, four of whom were on their knees praying when the hoodlums intervened. Nothing to do but remonstrate, shoo them away and hope.
Why the Redbridge Islamic Centre? Hard to say at this point. No one who worships there seems to know. They think the attack last week was unpremeditated. Why would whoever was responsible want to spout their bile within the mosque itself? Why the ferocity? The snarling. The physical intimidation, the wall of noise, like a swat team flying in through the window. The smashing of the toughened glass; the hurling of the reddish bricks the mosque had bought for building work? One brick, Abdul says, struck the imam, who was also injured by flying glass. He had to go to hospital. By then at least, the terror was over and the assailants were gone. “He was lucky,” says Abdul looking skyward. “God helped him.”
The physical damage isn’t much. Abdul lifts the green metal grill to show me the broken glass; by now it will have been replaced. But there is damage that can’t be covered by insurance. The shock. “We have been here for nine years,” he tells me. “There has never been anything like this.”
He says they have done everything they are called upon to do. They engage with the community. Members of his mosque have visited local Christian churches. Those who follow other faiths have been welcomed through the same door. “It’s usually open,” he says. “It was open when we were attacked. That’s why they got in so easily.”
They are back to normal now, he says, but it is a new normal. The extra police patrols have eased off but there will be security cameras. Everyone will be more watchful and, for a while, he says, a little fearful. “A similar thing happened not far from here a few weeks ago,” he says.
“It is not what we want. Who knows why these things go on? Some are just against the Muslims.”