A family was subjected to vile abuse while preparing for a funeral at a mosque in Burnley, a councillor said. 

Cllr Shah Hussain (Burnley Independent Group, Daneshouse with Stoneyholme) and deputy mayor of Burnley, said the incident happened shortly after 9am this morning (April 3) at the Shah Jalal Mosque and Burnley Islamic Cultural Centre in Burleigh Street.

He said the mosque was targeted in what appeared to be a “deliberate act of hate” and called on the authorities to investigate the crime swiftly.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Cllr Hussain said a man entered the mosque and started “desecrating” the building, causing damage to a play area, smashing windows to the offices, and ripping pages out of the Quran.

He added a family was also in the mosque washing the body of a family member in preparation for their funeral – a custom that is completed by the families in the Muslim faith.

The man is then said to have shouted abuse at the family who were left shocked by what was happening.

Cllr Hussain said: “A family was there cleaning the dead body of their relative and they had to be subjected to that at such a difficult time. He was spouting some right-wing comments. He knew what he was doing and saying. 

“The damage to the property is one thing but it gives fear to the people in the community, that they’re not able to practice their faith without fear of somebody coming in, threatening them, and breaking stuff.

“I don’t think this is just in Burnley, I think it’s up and down the country. 

“We should all come together and not let these people divide us. People should be free to practice their faith without fear of danger.”

In a press release issued by Cllr Hussain on Wednesday afternoon, he said the “appalling act of aggression” underscored the “urgent need for solidarity and action against Islamophobia.”

He said: “The Muslim community, already feeling vulnerable and marginalised, is now further shaken by this brazen attack on their place of worship.

“Such acts not only threaten the safety and security of individuals but also strike at the heart of religious freedom and multiculturalism in our society.”

Cllr Hussain said the police attended the mosque this morning and recovered CCTV footage showing the man entering the building.

A Lancashire Police spokesperson said: "We were called to Burns Street at 10.36am following reports a man had broken into the Shah Jalal Mosque but had run off after being challenged by men already inside the building.

"Work is ongoing to identify and arrest the offender and we have a number of officers currently in the area carrying out enquiries. 

"We know that this incident will have caused a great deal of upset in the community and we have a dedicated team of officers assigned to this case.

"We are at the early stages of our investigation and we are working to fully understand the motive of the offender. We would ask that people allow us to fully investigate the matter and do not engage in any unhelpful speculation.

"Anyone with information is asked to email forcecontrolroom@lancashire.police.uk or call 101, quoting log 369 of April 3, 2024."