Man jailed for attack against mosques in Birmingham

Arman Rezazadeh

A man has been jailed for three years and nine months for vandalism attacks on five mosques in Birmingham.

Arman Rezazadeh used a sledgehammer to smash windows and doors in Perry Barr, Aston and Erdington on March 21.

The 34-year-old, who is of Iranian descent, admitted religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been “motivated by religious hatred” and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims. Passing sentence, Judge Chambers said the offending was “planned and premeditated.”

He added: “You were motivated by your religious hatred, you being of the Shia faith and the mosques being Sunni Muslim mosques…

“Birmingham has a long history of religious toleration and harmony, not only between the faiths but within the faiths as well. You quite deliberately and seriously offended against that.

“The harm in this case has been extremely substantial – the impact on the local and wider Muslim community has been huge.”

Witton Islamic Centre

Rezazadeh caused damage put at more than £11,000 in the attacks at Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.

On March 21 at 1.25am he first struck at the Witton Islamic Centre in Aston. CCTV showed him smashing through a window with a sledgehammer, which then fell into the building as he lost grip.

He returned 30 minutes later and continued the attack, leaving all outside windows broken and causing £3,100 of damage.

Just minutes later, he struck at the Masjid Madrassa Faziul Islam Centre in Perry Barr smashing three more windows, causing £300 of damage.

At 2.15am he then went onto attack the Al-Habib Trust in Aston. Once again, he was caught on CCTV as he smashed nine windows, causing £1,000 of damage.

At 2.30am he struck at the Jamia Masjid Ghausia, smashing five windows and causing £5,000 of damage.

Finally, at 3am Rezazadeh smashed the front windows of the Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington, smashing windows at the side of the mosque.

The next day he handed himself in at Birmingham Central police station after a major hate crime investigation was launched. He admitted being behind the attacks and confessed to give himself an opportunity to “expose” false religious teachings, the court was told.

In interview, Rezazadeh behaved erratically and initially denied responsibility. He later said he disagreed with the teachings of an imam at another mosque, and said he only handed himself in so he could have an audience with a judge to tell him about the imam.

Rezazadeh was detained under the Mental Health Act, before being deemed fit to stand trial. On October 31, he pleaded guilty to five charges of religiously aggravated damage and was bailed to return for sentencing.

Prosecutor Tom Walkling said the defendant had been drinking alcohol to celebrate the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks and that he had a history of mental issues linked to cannabis use.

Javid Iqbal, of the Witton Islamic Centre, said the attack had upset the congregation and it was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt.

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