Extra security for ‘Europe’s largest Eid party’ in Birmingham – BBC News

Image caption Numbers of people attending the Eid event in Small Heath Park have increased each year

Armed officers and extra patrols are expected at what is billed as Europe’s largest end of Ramadan party.

Organisers expect up to 100,000 people at Birmingham’s Small Heath Park on Sunday for Eid al-Fitr.

Additional security was agreed after the series of terror attacks in Manchester and London, most recently at Finsbury Park Mosque.

Officers will be at key locations, with “a range of specialist officers on duty,” West Midlands Police said.

The specialist officers include armed police.

“Every year the event gets bigger… of course security will be a high priority, but we want people – also the wider communities – to enjoy the activities,” a spokesman for Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre said.

Image caption Mohammed Afzal said many Muslims felt “under siege” after recent terror attacks

It is the seventh year the event has been held in the park and organisers are working with five Birmingham mosques “to bring the community together”.

Concerns about Muslims being targets for attacks have been repeated since the Finsbury attack just after midnight last Sunday when a van struck a number of people.

The chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque said Muslims in the West Midlands felt “under siege” and potentially blamed for the recent terror attacks carried out in the name of so-called Islamic State and in Finsbury.

Mohammed Afzal said: “Whatever happens, everybody starts feeling very afraid as if they are going to be attacked or they are going to blamed for it.

“They feel as if the whole world is against them and their future in this country is not that secure, unfortunately. That is the feeling of most of the people.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Security has been stepped up at Birmingham Central Mosque, the chairman said

Mr Afzal said West Midlands Police and local authorities were doing “their best” to tackle hate crime against Muslims and the police presence around mosques had increased after events such as the terror attack in Manchester.

Mr Afzal said Muslim people were becoming “fed-up” of condemning attacks “because they are happening so frequently”.

“There is too much being expected of us because the general public – 99.9% – they are law-abiding citizens and have nothing to do with these terrorists and we don’t believe they are the true Muslims,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A vigil was held on Monday after the Finsbury terror attack

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott said: “Over the last few weeks communities will have seen more police officers carrying out enhanced patrols across the West Midlands at key locations, including places of worship.

“These additional measures continue and are to reassure people worried by the recent events and not in response to any local threat.”

Organisers of the Small Heath event said in a statement: “Last year we met families – of all different faiths – that had travelled from across the world to join in the day’s festivities.

“Celebrate Eid has always been open to the entire community and we welcome people of all faiths to join. As our numbers grow, so does our commitment to our community and our passion for peace and inclusion.”

Image caption Up to 70,000 people are thought to have gone to the event in 2015 and 90,000 last year, according to the event website

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