Senior police officer criticises media coverage of mosque bomb attacks

West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson

A senior police officer has criticised the media for its coverage of the terrorist attacks against mosques in the West Midlands.

West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson questioned whether the media coverage would have been greater if a different religion besides Islam had been targeted.

Dep Chief Con Thompson has launched a surprise attack on the media by suggesting it failed to properly raise awareness about the mosque bombings out of possible “religious bias”.

Blogging about the recent mosque attacks on three West Midlands mosques, the force’s second most senior officer stated how the “low level of media coverage the events received”.

He wrote: “Our circulation of the picture of alleged suspects in the mosque attacks drew very little coverage; that was frustrating at a time we needed public help.

‘‘I wonder if you picked another faith and said that there would be a series of bombings at places of worship during a major religious period and the police had a picture of the alleged attacker you might think it would get more coverage?’’

Ukrainian student Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, was arrested last week and charged with the alleged terror-related murder of Muslim grandfather Mohammed Saleem, 82, who was killed as he walked home from a mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham. He is also accused of causing three explosions outside mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton.

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Dep Chief Con Thompson praised his officers for their handling of the investigation and the EDL rally last Saturday which only resulted in a handful of arrests. He said: “The force faced the combined threat of a person allegedly engaged in serial terror attacks on the Muslim community and a major EDL demonstration. The force needed to catch the offender, prevent further attacks, work with communities and manage their concerns and police a major public order threat.

“With the appearance in court of Pavlo Lapshyn, charged with murder and other terrorism matters, and the great skill in which the EDL event was managed the results so far have been outstanding. It happened because of great action at so many different levels.”

Woolwich murder and Islamophobia

Since the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby on May 22 in Woolwich south east London, Islamophobic attacks have increased across Britain. Numerous mosques and Islamic centres have been fire bombed and targeted with bombs.

A mosque in Braintree, Essex and Gillingham, Kent was attacked on the evening of the Woolwich murder. A mosque in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was fire bombed within days of the of the Woolwich incident. Al Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, North London was torched to the ground with “EDL” painted on its walls. Darul Uloom in Chislehurst, Greater London was also set on fire weeks after the Woolwich attack.

A Muslim cemetery was desecrated with Islamophobic graffiti in Newport, Wales in June and an Islamic centre in Kirkcaldy, Scotland was also vandalised the night before the start of Ramadan.

A bomb was left at Aisha Mosque in Walsall on June 21 and at Kanz ul-Iman Jamia Mosque in Tipton on July 12 just after jummah prayers. Wolverhampton Central Mosque was also evacuated on July 18 after an explosive device was discovered next to the building.

Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on July 23 accused of stabbing Mohammed Saleem, 82, to death in Small Heath, Birmingham and preparing terrorism acts against three mosques in the West Midlands.

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