Police in Northern Ireland launched a hate crime investigation following the hanging of Nazi flags on lampposts outside of a West Belfast mosque.

U105 broke the story yesterday, stating that the hate crime occurred between the hours of 10:30 pm on Tuesday evening and the early hours of Wednesday morning in Dunmurry.

Jamal Iweida, imam and chairperson of Iqraa Mosque, told the BBC of the fear it generated. He stressed their concerns about “if this will lead to further actions” and the safety of children as parents bringing their children to the summer school noticed the flags on Wednesday morning.

Iweida told the Belfast Telegraph, “Everyone knows what they mean and what they represent. It is the absolute embodiment of racism, and in this case, Islamophobia,” and stressed the community support that followed.

He added a message of defiance in the face of such intimidation, “They are not going to win. We must all say no to these people.”

Other worshippers described how the intimidation and Nazi imagery reminded them of the white supremacist terror attacks in Christchurch that resulted in the murder of 51 Muslims in March 2019.

The hate crime drew political condemnation, according to the News Letter.

In response to the anti-Muslim and Islamophobic hate crime, locals planned a solidarity rally for Saturday afternoon in Dunmurry Park.

In a press release, Chief Inspector Brannigan made clear that, at the early investigation stage they are “treating this report as a racially motivated hate crime”.

Weeks earlier, a joint survey between ITV News and Tell MAMA revealed that of the 117 mosques surveyed, almost 90 per cent experienced anti-Muslim hate crimes in the previous 12 months, with some mosques describing far-right intimidation and agitations.

The important ITV News report highlighted examples of “threatening letters, acts of violence, and in one case, having faeces smeared across their walls.”

Faith institutions that have experienced a hate crime (religious and racial) or feel vulnerable to hate crime can apply online for government-funded protective security schemes. Applicants can include evidence like police crime references and community impact statements from worshippers, including how they feel (think anecdotes or surveys).

Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting reference number 360 of 23/08/23. Tell MAMA can do this on your behalf or pass information to officers anonymously, as we endeavour to further liaise with the police following this despicable anti-Muslim and Islamophobic hate crime.