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News Code: 894


English Premier League Fans Desecrate Quran

Two Middlesbrough fans have been suspended from matches after facing accusations of ripping up the Noble Quran during game against Birmingham city, as police announced an investigation on the alleged hate crime.

“We can confirm that, at this point, two individuals have been suspended from attending Boro matches,” Middlesbrough Football Club said in a statement cited by Birmingham Mail on Sunday, December 15.

“As investigations by West Midlands and Cleveland Police into the alleged incident at Birmingham last weekend are ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further,” the club added, vowing to ban anyone convicted of the crime from the Riverside Stadium for life.

An investigation involving police and Middlesbrough Football Club has been launched following allegations Boro fans engaged in anti-Muslim hate crime.

The allegations appeared after online reports suggested that a “minority” of Boro fans ripped up copies of the Quran during the club’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.

“Police are investigating a report of a hate crime which happened during the football match between Birmingham and Middlesbrough on Saturday 7 December,” PC Tim Gant from West Midlands Police, told Birmingham Mail.

“Officers are following a number of lines of inquiry including examining CCTV footage and are working closely with both clubs.”

“We have recovered paper which is currently being examined. We will not speculate on its content until examinations are complete,” he added.

A spokesman for Middlesbrough FC said the club operates a “zero tolerance policy” towards all forms of discrimination.

He added that the club is a strong supporter of football’s pledge to “eradicate racism in all its forms”.

As news of police investigations goes on, Muslim MP for Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood said the alleged offenders should be charged with incitement to religious hatred.

“If these allegations are proven then the culprits should be dealt with severely and be charged with incitement,” he said on Saturday.

“It’s disgraceful to allow pure hatred to come to an area like Bordesley Green with a high Muslim population and incite people like this.”

Meanwhile, Boro supporters’ group, Red Faction, organized anti-racism march before Saturday’s game with Brighton & Hove Albion.

“It’s a direct response to the incident last Saturday at the Birmingham away game when a minority of supporters ripped up the Qur’an,” Steve Fletcher, member of Red Faction supporters’ group, said.

“That does not represent Middlesbrough Football Club and its supporters.

“When the people who were there realized what was going on we were disgusted. The police were aware of who did it.”

British Muslim minority is estimated at nearly 2.7 million.

The Muslim existence on English football pitches dated back to 1992 Tottenham's Spanish midfielder Nayim was the only Muslim player in the league.

Seeking new talented players for the league, scouts brought new players from West Africa and Paris to become global stars.

The growing influx of Muslim players has been fuelled by the internationalization of football with almost 40 Muslim stars in the English Premier league.
Source: On Islam