Asian (Muslim) youths in ‘faith hate’ attack on priest -Times Online

Asian youths in ‘faith hate’ attack on priest -Times Online

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3559768.ece

An Anglican priest is in hospital after he was beaten up and insulted in what appears to be a “faith hate” assault by Asian youths.

Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, was kicked and punched in the head and left with deep cuts, bruising and two black eyes in the grounds of his historic church in east London after he asked three Asian youths there to be quiet.

The attack at the 18th-century St George in the East Church in Stepney follows a number of apparently anti-Christian attacks in recent months in the same area.

Alan Green, area dean for Tower Hamlets, said: “It was a nasty cowardly attack. There were several groups in the churchyard and two from one group attacked him and the other group came and helped him back to the house.

“He was kicked and punched in the head as he lay on the ground, I believe that what was shouted was ‘you f****** priest’ before they attacked him.”

A Metropolitan police spokesman said: “The suspects are Asian . . . and the incident is being investigated as an alleged faith hate crime.”

The church had previously been targeted when a brick smashed a window during a service. Allan Ramanoop, a member of the parochial church council, said: “On one occasion, youths shouted: ‘This should not be a church, this should be a mosque, you should not be here’.

“The youths are anti-Christian. It’s terrible what they have done to Canon Ainsworth. We’ve never had violence like that before.”

A parishioner raised the alarm after the attack on March 5, but the youths had fled by the time police arrived.

The church was consecrated in 1729 and designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren. It was severely damaged during the blitz but rebuilt in the 1960s.

Ainsworth was discharged from hospital but has now gone back in. Yesterday, he was visited in St Bartholomew’s hospital by his wife Jan, who is also a priest as well as being the Church of England’s chief education officer.

She said her husband was concerned publicity about the attack could fuel inter-faith tensions. “He does not want the level of fuss and attention. I think he feels it’s quite difficult in the local area.”

The Met recorded an upsurge in attacks against Muslims after the July 2005 bombings in London. There are also numerous attacks against Jews but, according to police statistics, relatively few Christians are attacked because of their faith.
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