Hundreds Clash In Street Battle

Lancashire Evening Post, October 2, 2006

A teenager was stabbed when hundreds of people became involved in a battle on the streets of Preston.

Trouble centred on the Jamea Masjid mosque in Clarendon Street, Avenham, for more than four hours last night (Sunday) and led to a massive policing operation.

Preston’s police chief said the problems were triggered by local youths throwing stones at cars belonging to people attending the mosque.

This sparked a response from around 200 people inside the mosque who came out to defend those under attack.

It resulted in one 16-year-old Asian youth being stabbed in the arm, but ambulance crews were turned back as the police felt it was too dangerous for them to enter the scene.

Fighting continued into the early hours and led to police requiring back-up from officers as far away as Lancaster and Burnley.

Chief Supt Mike Barton, divisional commander for the area, said more than 100 officers were deployed and he was treating the incident as race-related.

He said: “Some people I spoke to at the mosque insisted it wasn’t racial but I think some people at the mosque believe it was.

“Until we actually find the offenders and speak to them, and because some people believe it to be racial, then that’s how we’ll treat it.”

Insp Simon Hayes, force incident manager for Lancashire Police, described the incident as “community tension” with youths on the streets in a “confrontational mood”.

He said: “As a result of that, there was a high-level policing operation to reassure the public and disperse these groups.

“There was no major disorder or serious incident.”

Ilyas Desail, of the Jamea mosque on Clarendon Street, said: “It is not a mosque issue, it is a community issue.

“It is the month of Ramadan and that is the only reason the mosque has been brought into this.

“We are all upset by this, everyone is upset. No one is going to be happy with the tarnishing of such great efforts we have made in Preston in the past 40 years.”

A mother-of-three, 33, from Clarendon Street, said: “It’s getting ridiculous and for the past two nights there’s been fighting.”

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