Woolwich murder: war memorials vandalised as racial attacks continue

A tarpaulin covers part of the Animals in War Memorial on Park Lane in central London. Image: Press Association.

Vandals have attacked two war memorials in central London, in the latest in a series of race-related incidents following the murder of a British soldier in Woolwich last week.

The RAF Bomber Command War Memorial and the Animals in War Memorial were both daubed with graffiti. Although the words added to the two memorials have now been covered up, it is thought "Islam" has been written on each of them.

The RAF Bomber Command War Memorial in central London. Image: Press AssociationThe RAF Bomber Command War Memorial in central London. Image: Press Association

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "At 5am this morning police discovered graffiti on both the RAF Bomber Command War Memorial in Green Park and the Animals in War Memorial on Park Lane. Royal Parks' officers and Westminster police are investigating. There have been no arrests at present."

The incidents are being treated as criminal damage, police said.

London was the centre of another protest on Monday when supporters of the far-right English Defence League marched through the city.

The EDL demonstrators pushed their way through a police cordon as they made their way to Trafalgar Square.

They chanted "Muslim killers off our streets" and "there's only one Lee Rigby" - the name of the soldier killed in Woolwich - besides holding placards that read "Blood on your hands" and "GB RIP".

Around 1,000 EDL protesters then made their way along Whitehall before taking a position on the pavement across the road from Downing Street.

A much smaller group of anti-fascist demonstrators gathered opposite them holding an "EDL Racists" banner.

Both sides traded insults but were kept apart by officers and barriers. The EDL supporters chanted: "We hate Cameron."

Meanwhile the chairman of a mosque in Grimsby which was targeted by arsonists on Sunday night has described the attack as attempted murder.

Two people were arrested by police patrolling around the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre, which was targeted despite an increased police presence following another attack on the complex three days ago.

Humberside police said a fire was started at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre on Weelsby Road, shortly before 10pm on Sunday.

The mosque's chairman, Diler Gharib, told the Grimsby Telegraph: "We had just finished our prayers and were discussing how to thank our neighbours for the support they have shown us over the past few days when we heard a bang and saw fire coming under the door.

"I grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out and then two more petrol bombs hit the fire escape and the bin so I had to put those out too."

The Islamic centre in Grimsby is part of a complex that includes a mosque which was targeted by youths last week.

Eleven teenagers were arrested after that incident which happened after a party spiralled out of control, police said. The 16 and 17-year-olds were arrested on Thursday.

Following last night's incident, Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell said attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions were playing into the hands of terrorists who wanted community conflict.

Mr Mitchell told BBC Radio Humberside: "It's sheer, simple stupidity. I'm appalled and shocked. I didn't expect this in Grimsby. These idiots, whoever they are, are playing directly into the hand of the terrorists."

Anti-Muslim incidents are continuing to be reported in other parts of the country.

In the Black Country two men have been charged with racially aggravated public order offences following a protest over the weekend.

A 22-year-old man from Walsall and a 28-year-old from Wolverhampton will appear before magistrates on June 18 after an EDL protest in Walsall town centre on Saturday afternoon, a West Midlands Police spokeswoman said. It is believed the protesters were demonstrating over the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.

A number of arrests have followed other incidents in Bristol, Lincoln, Woking, Gateshead and elsewhere, including London.

The organisation Faith Matters, which runs a helpline, has said it has received over 160 calls since Lee Rigby's murder, up from a daily average of six.