Portsmouth mosque imam 'saddened' by poppy protest

Muhammad Muhi Uddin, Imam at Jami mosque Muhammad Muhi Uddin said he did not understand why Jami mosque was targeted

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An imam in Portsmouth has said he is saddened his mosque has been targeted twice in two days after remembrance poppies were burnt in London.

A poppy was painted on the front of the Jami mosque, on Victoria Road North in Southsea, on Friday and on Saturday 100 people staged a demonstration outside.

Hampshire police said there had been no arrests but that they would continue to monitor the situation.

Muhammad Muhi Uddin said he condemned Thursday's poppy burning.

He told the BBC he was mystified as to why his mosque had been targeted.

Mr Muhi Uddin said: "It deeply hurts me.

"If they talked to us then we would explain where we stand.

'Matter of respect'

"They have the right to remember them [those killed in war] in your own way and we have the right to remember them in our own way and we shouldn't interfere with each other's [ways].

"In this way we can live in a society in harmony.

"It's a matter of respecting each other, it's not a matter of religion. In a society, whether we're Christian or Muslims, we should respect each other."

The Portsmouth protest was a reaction to Islamic group Muslims Against Crusades burning poppies in Kensington, west London, during a two-minute silence on Thursday to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day.

As the clock struck 1100 GMT, they burned a model of a poppy and chanted "British soldiers burn in hell".

A spokesman for Muslims against Crusades claimed about 30 protesters were involved in the poppy burning. The Metropolitan Police said it could not verify the numbers and did not have an accurate log.

About 50 men linked to the English Defence League (EDL) staged a counter protest but the groups were kept separate by police.

Two Muslim protesters were arrested for public order offences and the founder of the EDL was charged with assaulting a police officer.

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