Mosque attacks motives queries

A NATIONALIST political party spokesman thinks it unlikely that recent attacks at the Newcastle mosque are motivated by religion.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that attacks at the mosque at Wallsend, including one caught on a closed-circuit television camera, had left the city’s Muslim community feeling ‘‘vulnerable and scared’’.

Click below to see an edited version of recent CCTV footage.

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Footage provided by Newcastle Muslim Association

Australian Protectionist Party spokesman Darrin Hodges said yesterday he believed many people were ‘‘concerned about what goes on inside’’ mosques, but the attackers ‘‘could just be local drunks’’..

‘‘I’m a bit suspicious about all that,’’ Mr Hodges said.

‘‘It doesn’t mean they’re doing it because it’s a mosque.’’

The party’s Sydney-based organiser, Nick Folkes, said debate about a mosque proposal at Elermore Vale had created interest in the party.

‘‘We definitely had a lot of people wanting to know what we were about,’’ he said.

Elermore Vale community group EV CARES, which was set up in opposition to the mosque plan, has steadfastly denied it is motivated by race or religion.

The group has outlined a number of planning concerns, notably traffic and noise, but these have often been overshadowed by racist elements of opposition.

A number of escalating incidents have been reported by the Newcastle Muslim Association, including the word ‘‘Srebrenica’’, a reference to a 1995 massacre of 8000 Muslims, spraypainted on a car outside the mosque.

The Muslim association’s spokeswoman Diana Rah said racist elements were inconsequential in the mosque’s legal proceedings, however the incidents have had a negative impact on the Muslim community.

‘‘The development application is to be determined on planning merit ... and hence the purported opposition being stirred up by racist elements are irrelevant in the legal proceedings,’’ she said.

Police said they were investigating the latest attack, but had no new information.

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