Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Wife of vicar beaten for 'being a Christian' by Asian yobs speaks of shock at faith hate attack
The wife of a clergymanbeaten up in his churchyard in a suspected " faithhate" crime has spoken of the shock felt by his congregation. Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, was set upon by three Asian youths shouting anti-Christian abuse when he confronted them for rowdy behaviour outside St George-in-the-East church in Shadwell, leaving him with two black eyes and cuts and bruises.His wife, Janina Ainsworth, 56, took Palm Sunday services yesterday after Canon Ainsworth was re-admitted to hospital for his injuries. She said: "It is obvious that it does contain a religious element."Quite clearly, there are mindless individuals in every community under the influence of drink and drugs who will engage in random acts of violence. But we're very shocked."She said her husband was expected home to the rectory next to the church in Cannon Street Road tonight."We do know that churchyards have been quite vulnerable places so we are going to be working with the church, the police and the local council to look at security," she added. "Normally community relations here are very good. We have had very strong messages of support from the East London Mosque and Tower Hamlets Mosque with whom we've got good relations. "Clearly the Muslim community is very shocked.These individuals were under the influence and this was a random act."The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, said clergymen who were part of the community were "vulnerable" to attacks."Over the years we've had murders, we've had assaults on clergy,"he said. "Therefore we have over the past few years been beefing up our security and operations."But of course if you go out into the streets, if you belong to the community, if you're a part of it, then you are vulnerable."Mrs Ainsworth faced a fearful congregation yesterday who said rising tensions in the area had led up to the attack on 5 March, the second time the church has been targeted after a Good Friday attack last year in which youths threw bricks through the windows.Gravestones in nearby St Dunstan's Church in Stepney are also regularly vandalised and locals say drink and drugs problems, combined with religious differences, fuel the attacks.Parishioner Susan Crocker said: "It is not out of the blue, they broke the glass last Easter - it's a recurrent problem."Toni Davey, 43, said: "To be honest something like this was going to happen sooner or later - it is the area and the times we are living in. There is a tension in the area with the Muslims."Father-of-four Mr Ainsworth officiated last year at the wedding of Coronation Street star Andy Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland.He moved with his family from Manchester last summer and was said to be working hard to connect with the large Bangladeshi community in the area.Michael Saward, 75, said: "I saw Michael about 10 days ago and he looked very frail and fragile with two large black eyes. Obviously we're all very shocked."Police have confirmed the case is being treated as a faith-hate crime and no arrests have been made.The Rev Alan Green, area dean for Tower Hamlets and chairman of the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum, said: "Any incident that involves an element of abusive faith-related language should be handled in this way."An important part of the work of the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum is to bring together representatives from our local faith communities, the borough council and the Metropolitan Police to monitor and respond to all reported faith-hate incidents."This ensures that we protect people of all faiths or none and maintain the good relations that exist locally between our diverse population."
As in the days of Noah....