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Hunt for culprits of Islamophobic attack in Whitechapel as Bishop of London leads vigil for New Zealand massacre

PUBLISHED: 17:23 17 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 18 March 2019

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Bishop of London Sarah Mullally address worshippers at East London Mosque vigil for those massacred in New Zealand shootings. Picture: Ken Mears

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Bishop of London Sarah Mullally address worshippers at East London Mosque vigil for those massacred in New Zealand shootings. Picture: Ken Mears

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Detectives are appealing today for social media video of a hate crime incident in Whitechapel less than a mile from where the Bishop of London led Friday’s interfaith vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre.

Cannon Street Road where Islamophoc attack took place in Whitechapel less than a mile from vigil at East London Mosque for New Zealand mosque massacres. Picture: GoogleCannon Street Road where Islamophoc attack took place in Whitechapel less than a mile from vigil at East London Mosque for New Zealand mosque massacres. Picture: Google

A 27-year-old Asian was attacked in nearby Cannon Street Road at 1.15pm, just minutes after the vigil began at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel Road.

Three men shouted anti-Muslim slogans at the man before getting out of their and attacking him with blunt object.

The suspects, are all described as white and in their 20s, got back into their blue Ford Fiesta and drove off before police arrived.

Detectives from Central East Command now trying to trace the vehicle say they are “aware of footage of the incident on social media” and are appealing for anyone who may have recorded it to contact them.

Media spotlight is on Bishop of London at vigil outside East London Mosque while Islamophobic incident is reported nearby in Cannon Street Road. Picture: Ken MearsMedia spotlight is on Bishop of London at vigil outside East London Mosque while Islamophobic incident is reported nearby in Cannon Street Road. Picture: Ken Mears

“Islamophobic comments were made by these three to the victim which we’re treating seriously,” Det Chief Insp Sean Channing revealed. “This was a hate crime against a man going about his normal business.”

The chief detective also reassured the East End’s Muslim community about the incident.

“There’s no evidence to suggest the mosque was being targeted,” he added. “We want to make it clear these men didn’t approach any mosque or congregation in the area.”

An ambulance was called to Cannot Street Road, but the man’s friends had already driven to him the Royal London Hospital. He had a head injury, not believed to be serious, but left soon after, before getting treatment at another hospital.

No arrests have been made, but police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to dial 101 quoting reference 3563/15MAR or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555111. Hate Crime can be reported dialling 999 in an emergency, or 101 in a non-emergency, or directly at a police station, Scotland Yard points out.

The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said on Friday: “There is no intelligence linking the appalling events in New Zealand to the UK, but additional uniform patrols will continue in London focusing on places of worship and specific communities, with specific attention to mosques.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Hon Sarah Mullally, led Friday’s interfaith vigil at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel Road, which was called by the Diocese of London following the New Zealand massacre in Christchurch where 50 worshippers were gunned down at two mosques just hours before.

The Bishop said before of the vigil: “I am shocked to hear of the appalling killings of worshippers at prayers. I pray for protection and blessing for Muslim friends and neighbours in New Zealand and London.”

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “We stand together against hatred, as we have always done in Tower Hamlets.”

He was joined at the vigil with the Bishop by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali.

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