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Faith leaders unite to condemn gang attack on clergyman

PUBLISHED: 23:04 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

MUSLIM leaders have added their voice to the condemnation of the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was badly beaten up in the chuch grounds of St George's-in-the-East by a gang of Asian youths. Scotland Yard is treating ther attack in London's East End as a 'faith hate' crime

By Mike Brooke

MUSLIM leaders have added their voice to the condemnation of the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was badly beaten up in the chuch grounds of St George's-in-the-East by a gang of Asian youths.

Scotland Yard is treating the attack in London's East End as a possible 'faith hate' crime.

The East London Mosque in Whitechapel issued a statement today (Monday) saying: "We were appalled to learn of the attack on Canon Ainsworth by two Asian youths in what is being described as an alcohol fuelled faith-hate crime."

The Imam of the mosque in Whitechapel Road, Abdul Qayum, described it as "this is a cowardly and despicable act."

He added: "Our congregation is united in condemnation. We pray that Canon Ainsworth has a full and speedy recovery."

The Muslim leaders are now joining the police appeal for witnesses to the March 5 attack to come forward.

The East London Muslim centre's executive director, Dilowar Khan, is calling on anyone with information to come forward.

"The youths who attacked Canon Michael need to be brought to justice," he said.

"Anyone who knows who's responsible for this disgraceful crime should contact police or call Crimestoppers."

The attack was in danger of undermining the efforts to bring the community together, he feared.

"We have become increasingly concerned about anti-social behaviour among a minority of youth, particularly the rise of alcohol related incidents," he added.

"We should not let such dreadful incidents detract from the hard work of communities in Tower Hamlets to create social harmony.

"Rather, we should increase our efforts to tackle these problems."

Canon Ainsworth moved to Shadwell with his family from Lancashire last summer and was working to 'connect' with the East End's large Bangladeshi community.

Police have confirmed the case is being treated as a faith-hate crime.

The Dean for Tower Hamlets and chairman of the Inter-Faith Forum, The Rev Alan Green, said: "Any incident that involves an element of abusive faith-related language should be handled in this way.

"An important part of our work is bringing together our local faith communities with the council and police to monitor and respond to all reported faith-hate incidents."

Police are appealing for witnesses to contact Tower Hamlets 'community safety' unit at Limehouse police station on 020-7275 4752, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555111.

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