Birmingham mosque attacks: Shia Muslim jailed

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Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Arman Rezazadeh has been jailed after vandalising five mosques

A Shia Muslim has been jailed for three years and nine months for vandalism attacks on five mosques in Birmingham.

Arman Rezazadeh, who is of Iranian descent, used a sledgehammer to smash windows and doors in Perry Barr, Aston and Erdington on 21 March.

The 34-year-old admitted religiously aggravated criminal damage .

Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been "motivated by religious hatred" and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims.

Rezazadeh sparked a major hate crime inquiry supported by anti-terror police, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

He caused damaged put at more than £11,000 in the attacks at Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.

Prosecutor Tom Walkling said the defendant had been drinking alcohol to celebrate the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks and that he had a history of mental issues linked to cannabis use.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington was among the mosques that were vandalised

Rezazadeh, of Greenhill Road, Handsworth, handed himself in and admitted being behind the attacks. He confessed to give himself an opportunity to "expose" false religious teachings, the court was told.

Javid Iqbal, of the Witton Islamic Centre, said the attack had upset the congregation and it was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt.

Passing sentence, Judge Chambers said the offending was "planned and premeditated".

"Birmingham has a long history of religious toleration and harmony, not only between the faiths but within the faiths as well. You quite deliberately and seriously offended against that," he said.

"The harm in this case has been extremely substantial - the impact on the local and wider Muslim community has been huge."