A man carrying a knife and a stick tried to get into a mosque in Leeds last Friday, police have said.
The man was seen acting suspiciously after going into a butcher’s shop on Beeston Road, in the south of the city, at about 1pm. He then tried to get into the nearby Abu Huraira Masjid mosque but was turned away.
The man walked towards Cross Flatts Park and was arrested. Police said “mental health appears to be a factor.”
Mosque secretary Amjad Hussain spoke to the man before calling the police.
“We realised that somebody was acting suspiciously – it didn’t look like he was coming to pray,” he said. “So we kind of spoke to him briefly, and at that point I realised that he had a weapon – two weapons, one was a stick and one was a knife. It was more of a risk assessment than anything else and it was a 999 call and that’s our policy within the mosque.”
Leeds Imam Qari Asim told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “A key issue in a majority of these cases is mental health, then other factors may get added onto that such as ideological or political grievances.”
Qari Asim said it was “unfortunate” that a time of rising mental health issues, that problems are only dealt with when they manifest themselves in these types of actions.
“The infrastructure doesn’t exist early on and people’s needs are not met,” he said.”Some people just need someone to listen to their concerns and issues.”
And Supt Chris Bowen of West Yorkshire Police said: “We are carrying out inquiries to establish the full circumstances around these incidents but at this stage mental health appears to be a factor.
“We have been liaising with representatives in the community to reassure them following these incidents given the understandable concern it will have caused and we will be keeping them updated.”
Nine months ago, shortly after the deadly Christchurch terror attack, the Muslim Council of Britain called on the government to properly fund mosque security.
The Prime Minister has increased security funding for Jewish institutions after the rise of anti-Semitic attacks, committing £14m to support the security of approximately 400 synagogues and 150 Jewish schools (equivalent to £25k per institution).
But the Muslim Council of Britain called on the government to “demonstrate equivalent support to Muslim communities.”
An MCB letter pointed out how hate crime against Muslims represents the majority of religiously based hate crime (52%). Yet it said the government’s fund for security of all other faith institutions is currently closed and had only distributed around £2.4m over three years (equivalent to less than £500 per institution if only Muslim institutions are considered).