Rector beaten up â€œover his faithâ€ by Asian youth in UK
18 Mar 2008
London: March 18, 2008. A clergyman is in hospital after he was beaten up in his churchyard by three Asian youths, in an incident, which police are treating as a "faith-hate" attack.
Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, asked the gang to keep their noise down but they turned on him, taunting him about his faith and hitting him in the face and body.
He was found slumped in the churchyard of St George-in-the-East in Stepney, east London. Police said the gang made "remarks insulting his occupation" before fleeing.
A parishioner said: "There was blood everywhere. All the church members are in shock. Our canon is such a nice man who has done so much for the parish."
Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack on March 5. No arrests have been made. Mr Ainsworth was initially treated in hospital and given the all-clear, but has since returned for further treatment after feeling unwell.
The canon, a former member of the Church of England`s General Synod, moved to the area from Manchester last year. Colleagues said that his appointment was designed to improve the parish, which has a large Bangladeshi Muslim population and high levels of unemployment.
The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme, who used to work with Mr Ainsworth, said: "I would want to see a condemnation of this cowardly behaviour by senior Muslims in the community and really hope there isn`t an over-reaction from the white community."
A survey of London clergy by National Churchwatch, which provides personal safety advice, found that nearly half said they had been attacked in the previous 12 months. The organisation suggested that vicars should consider taking off their dog collars when they are on their own. (The Telegraph)