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Racists smash Muslim graves in Leeds

By Jonathan Brown

An attack on a Muslim graveyard in Leeds in which headstones were smashed and uprooted is being treated as a racist hate crime by police.

It is the second time this year that vandals have desecrated Muslim graves at the multi-faith Harehills Cemetery in the city. The attack left families deeply distressed after motorcycle tyre marks were scored deep into freshly dug grave-tops and beer cans were strewn around the newly created site, which contains 100 Islamic burial plots.



Residents, who say the cemetery has been repeatedly targeted in recent months, are calling for CCTV cameras to be installed. The scene of destruction was discovered by Sophie Rashid, whose mother had only been interred at the cemetery two days earlier.



"Someone appeared to have ridden a motorbike across graves and there were alcohol bottles and cans strewn about. It is really awful and very upsetting," she said. Council staff have set up increased security patrols in the cemetery.



A spokesman for West Yorkshire police confirmed that the incident, which happened between Friday afternoon and early on Saturday morning, was being treated as a hate crime.



Similar damage was recorded in March when a teenager was arrested but not prosecuted.



On that occasion between 20 and 30 Muslim graves were vandalised, prompting claims of Islamophobia.

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