CAIRO - An attack on a Newcastle mosque has sparked condemnation of the New South Wales Government who called for cooperation with the Community Relations Commission to offer any assistance to Newcastle Police and the Muslim community, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday, January 7.
"Attacks on places of worship whether those places are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or other, are unacceptable in a society that values religious freedom and social tolerance," NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, said.
The police's efforts can only be assisted with the co-operation of the community and I am sure that will occur, he said.
The attack occurred last Monday when two unidentified men were caught on CCTV cameras attacking the Wallsend mosque minutes after a group of children had finished a scripture class.
Seven worshippers were trapped inside when one man with a large tattoo of a cross on his neck attempted to break into the mosque.
He kicked open the fence gate, hurled an object at the mosque's front door, then kicked the front door.
Both men tried to knock over the front fence before one of them shouted what appeared to be abuse.
Police have denied two men who attacked a mosque on the outskirts of Newcastle were engaging in a coordinated attack.
There's nothing to suggest it was an arranged attack. It looks like a couple of drunken hoodlums who were wandering along and just happened to be there, the Newcastle crime manager, Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Humphrey, said.
There's certainly nothing systematic or sustained about the attack in our view.
He added that police had increased patrols around the area and had information one of the offenders might have been from interstate.
The attacks were condemned by NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said religious bigotry had no place in Australia.
"We strongly condemn attacks on all faith groups, whether it be mosques, churches or synagogues," he said.
Such bigotry has no place in Australian society, he said.
Yet, a Newcastle Muslim Association spokeswoman, Diana Rah, said the attack was the latest in a string of incidents at the mosque that began when the association sought to build a mosque in the nearby suburb of Elermore Vale.
The Association has presented the mosque project, citing a significant increase in the Muslim population over the past five years, forcing the association to hire the adjacent Masonic Hall.
"We are also experiencing major difficulty with parking and in recent times, this has caused a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood," the website states.
The mosque application will be considered by the Land and Environment Court next month.
In post 9/11-era, Muslims, who make up 1.7 percent of Australia 20-million population, have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.