BY LIZ BELL20 JUNE 2022
UPDATE: Monday 20 June 2022
Frankston Crime Investigation Unit detectives have charged eight people after a mosque was allegedly damaged in Langwarrin early Sunday morning.
The men – one aged 62, two aged 18 and five aged 19 – were each charged with burglary and trespass.
All were bailed overnight to appear at Frankston Magistrates’ Court on 28 October.
The charges relate to minor damage caused to a mosque on Leisureland Drive about 1.50am.
There is nothing to suggest the incident was religiously motivated.
AN overnight invasion of the Baitul Salam (House of Peace) Mosque in Langwarrin has shocked and frightened the members of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who are calling for a stronger police presence in the area and heightened security.
The mosque was broken into around 2am on Sunday by a group of 12 people, thought to be aged in their late teens to mid-20s.
The intruders caused thousands of dollars damage, broke windows, rode allegedly stolen pushbikes through the mosque, and destroyed objects. They were caught on security camera mocking the Muslim prayers, with some allegedly were wearing head coverings that looked like hijabs.
Mosque spokesman Aziz Bhatti said the intruders went downstairs to the living quarters of the Imam and his wife and two toddlers and banged on the doors.
“They were terrified, they did not know who they were, or what they wanted,” he said.
Police were called, but the intruders had left before they arrived.
Bhatti said there had been “20 to 30” incidents and attacks at the mosque since it opened in 2008, despite the Ahmadiyya Muslim community trying hard to blend peacefully into the community and inviting residents to barbecues and other events.
He said the incident on Sunday was frightening for the Imam and his family, and traumatising for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, many of whom had suffered persecution in Pakistan and other parts of the world.
“I will be asking the Police Commissioner to intervene and to increase security around here, in all these attacks we have not heard back from police about any arrests or charged, it’s quite frustrating,” Bhatti said.
In a 2015 attack on the mosque, an elderly mosque member had his nose broken.
“It is really frightening for our community, and we want more effort into investigating the incidents,” he said.
Frankston Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating.
Police have been told it appears the youths rode bicycles through the main prayer room of the Leisureland Drive mosque before they forced open a locked door causing damage to the frame about 1.50am.
Roving patrols and a search of the area failed to find those involved, however police have received information regarding the incident and the investigation is ongoing.
Police are appealing for the people involved to come forward.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
First published in the Frankston Times – 21 June 2022