Police are treating the ransacking of an Islamic Centre in Newcastle as a hate crime. Police were called to reports a group of teenagers had broken in to the Bahr Academy on Benwell Lane on Monday evening. Six people that were arrested have been released on bail.
Officers attended the Islamic Centre, which used to be the set for the TV show Byker Grove, and found significant damage had been caused.
The centre suffered a break-in in January where racist graffiti was put on the walls. The offenders for that incident were never identified.
On this particular break-in copies of the Koran had been ripped up and left on the floor while windows had also been smashed.
Northumbria Police neighbourhood inspector Alan Davison confirmed the incident was being treated as a hate crime.
Imam Muhammad Abdulmuheet said he expected the damage to the centre to cost thousands of pounds to repair, and that the recent events in New Zealand – where 50 Muslim worshippers were massacred in Mosque attacks – had made Muslims at the centre fear for their safety.
He said: “It (the attack) hurt everyone. It (the Koran) was torn everywhere, that really hurt us.
“We thought after Christchurch this (mosque attacks) is going to escalate and well this is it. At the moment the fear is there and it is going to remain. Something needs to be done to deter these things.”
Officers from Northumbria Police again visited the Bahr Academy on Tuesday and the force said it is working to put “further measures” in place to prevent similar incidents.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police.