Anglican Priest Beaten up in 'Faith Hate' Incident
Country: United Kingdom
Date of incident: March 17, 2008
Category: Social Hostility / Intolerance
Attack against: Faith
Area of case: Private
Anglican priest, Canon Michael Ainsworth, beaten up and insulted in 'faith hate' incident in his own churchyard by Asian youths.Police are looking for three men after the attack in east London in which Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, rector of St George-in-the-East, Shadwell, was attacked in his own churchyard after approaching the youths, who were behaving rowdily. “The suspects are Asian... and the incident is being investigated as an alleged faith hate crime,” said a police spokesman.
Two of the three attacked him, inflicting cuts, bruises and two black eyes. The assailants are also alleged to have insulted the cleric for his occupation. Under a new law introduced last year, it is an offence to stir up hatred against someone on grounds of their religion.
A parishioner raised the alarm after the attack on March 5, but the youths had fled by the time police arrived. “There was blood everywhere,” a parishioner told the East London Advertiser. “All the church members are in shock over what happened. Our canon is such a nice man who has done so much for the parish. It’s been very upsetting.”
Alan Green, area dean for Tower Hamlets and chair of the local inter-faith forum, said the church was working with the council and police to ensure the safety of its ministers and members of the public in areas such as churchyards. “We take any assault against members of the clergy very seriously and have had excellent support from the local police on this matter,” he said. He said officers were correct to handle any incident involving an element of abusive faith-related language as a faith hate crime, in order to protect people of all faiths.