SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-The Muslim community in Manchester’s Oldham city have vented anger over the desecration of several Muslim graves in Chadderton Cemetery, in the assault identified by police as “racially-motivated” attack
“This has upset the community. It doesn’t matter who is buried here, Muslim or not,” Abdul Chaudhary Wahad, a volunteer at Al-Madina Mosque in Oldham, told Manchester Evening News on Monday, August 18.
“This cemetery is for everyone in Oldham.”
The heinous attack that happened over the weekend has left about 10 Muslim graves vandalized in Chadderton Cemetery on Middleton Road.
According to Oldham police, headstones were uprooted, trampled on flowers and kicked over memorials.
Large floral tributes of two graves were smashed, trampled on and flowers scattered across the floor. Also four wooden grave markers and headstones were uprooted, the police added.
Calling it a racial attack, Sgt Jon Martin from Greater Manchester Police, told BBC: “The culprits have singled out the resting places of those who have lost their lives, purely because of their religion.”
This was a “deliberate, calculating and cruel act of desecrating the memories of Muslims who are buried at the cemetery”.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million, mostly of Indian, Pakistani and Bengali backgrounds.
Condemning the racial attack, Oldham Muslims have called for installing cameras to deter any future assaults.
“Everyone is angry. It looks like people have been trampling on graves. It could just be kids playing around, but it could have been more targeted,” said Abdul Waheed, 38, whose father is buried at the cemetery.
“Even one security camera would give us reassurance.”
A similar feeling was shared by several Oldham Muslims who frequently visit Chadderton Cemetery.
“A lot of people, including me, are here every day. My wife is buried here. I’ve never seen anything like this here before. This has hurt us,” said Wahad of Al-Madina mosque.
“I’m very angry. I want the council to put some cameras here.”
Mohammed Yaqoob, who was visiting his mother’s grave, said: “We feel quite angry. This is everyone’s graveyard. Security is important – it would only take a few cameras to deter people from doing this in the future.”
Police investigations have been undertaken to identify the vandals.
“We take reports of this nature very seriously and are working as hard and as fast as we can to get to the bottom of this matter,” said Oldham council deputy leader, Jean Stretton.
“We are making every attempt possible to contact those who may have been affected by this. If anyone has any information please contact the police.”