An Islamic academy has been attacked and vandalized for the second time in three months, head of the academy said Tuesday.
The Bahr Academy in the city of Newcastle was attacked Monday evening by six individuals, who broke into the school and area of worship, smashed the windows and desecrated the copies of the Quran, Imam Abdul Muhit told Anadolu Agency.
"One of the neighbors had called and told us that some people were inside the school and they were breaking stuff. When we arrived at the masjid the police arrived at the same time and we caught six youths," Muhit said.
"We didn't see the fire but there was a carpet that was burnt and we have a feeling they were ready to set the building on fire. When we arrived they were talking about Muslims and making racist jokes amongst themselves," he added.
According to a neighborhood watch, the attack took place at 9:00 p.m. local time (0900GMT) and leaders of the institution and the police arrived at the academy at 9.20 p.m. when the perpetrators were still inside causing damage.
Although the individuals were caught by the police, Muhit said they weren't able to arrest them in that moment as there weren't enough police personnel on the scene. However, after identifying the suspects, police were able to arrest them on Tuesday morning.
Asked how the attack has had an effect on the Muslim community in Newcastle, Imam Muhit said it was still too early to say. However, he said this was the second attack in less than three months and the fourth overall and that such attacks have left the community feeling vulnerable but has also united them.
"This is the only Islamic academy in north England […] and if our community don't come together to defend it, a worse attack can happen in the future," the imam said.
The Islamic institution was previously vandalized in January 2019, with racist graffiti being sprayed on its walls. The school had to relocate in order to rebuild the academy and repair the damages.
Anti-Muslim hate crimes have soared across the U.K. in the aftermath of the terror attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 50 Muslims dead.
Islamophobic attacks rose by nearly 600 percent in the week after the Christchurch shootings with reports of Muslims being verbally abused, according to Tell Mama, a non-governmental organization that documents Islamophobic incidences in the U.K.