Socialist Worker

Arrest over mosque attacks as 5,000 mourn murder victim

The West Midlands has seen a wave of attacks on mosques and a brutal racist stabbing, reports?Judith Orr

Issue No. 2363

A man has been charged with the “terrorist-related” murder of 75 year old Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham. 

Pavlo Lapshyn, a student of Ukranian origin, was arrested on suspicion of setting off explosions near three mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton between 22 June and 12 July.

Lapshyn was still being questioned about these attacks as Socialist Worker went to press. A second man was released without charge.

Mohammed Saleem was on his way home from evening prayers at his local mosque in the Small Heath area of Birmingham when he was stabbed to death on 29 April this year. Two men were seen running from the scene.

The police did not release Mohammed’s body until two weeks ago. The family was only able to bury Mohammed on 13 July. Over 5,000 people attended his funeral. 

The mosque was overflowing and local streets had to be closed to contain all the mourners. 

Mohammed’s family was angry at how the police treated what they believed was a racist murder. His son Shahid spoke to Socialist Worker at the time about his frustration with their investigation.

“The attack was done with hate,” he said. “The knife was thrust right through his body. But when we raised with the police that the murder might be racist they went cold on us. 

Killings

“All lines point to that, you can’t just put it under the carpet like a lot of race killings.”

Shahid talked about the “double standards” he believes the police have. “If an Asian man was seen running after a white pensioner had been murdered, they would have kicked down the doors of everyone in the neighbourhood,” he said.

Since the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south London there has been a rise in attacks on mosques and centres seen as being used by Muslims.

One Islamic community centre was burned to the ground in Muswell Hill, north London. The initials EDL, referring to the racist English Defence League, were found on one of the  walls.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called on the government to act in response to the rise of “hate crimes” and the “unprecedented escalation of violence against the Muslim community”. 

In a letter to home secretary Theresa May this Monday, MCB secretary general Farooq Murad wrote that, “For many Muslim communities across this country, there is a palpable sense of fear.

“It cannot be right that a minority community is allowed to be targeted in this manner.”

Shahid said, “We need to wake up and see the big picture. It’s bigger than what happened to my father. Some people want to see race riots and more attacks. 

“So we all have to come together and stand firm—united we stand, divided we fall.”


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Tue 23 Jul 2013, 16:10 BST
Issue No. 2363
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