England

Extra security for 'Europe's largest Eid party' in Birmingham

Image caption Organisers say people of all faiths are welcome at the event

Celebrations are under way at one of Europe's largest end-of-Ramadan events.

Armed officers and extra patrols are at Birmingham's Small Heath Park for Eid al-Fitr where organisers estimated 100,000 people gathered for prayers.

Amer Ijaz, one of the event's organisers, said they were "happy that they are here to reassure us".

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

'United and strong'

Mr Ijaz added organisers had been working in partnership with West Midlands Police.

"But it's just a shame that we are in these times where we are having to have the police made available to us so we can prevent certain things from happening," he said.

"But you know what, as Brummies, as UK citizens, we are going to get over this and we are going to stand together united and strong."

Officers would be at key locations, with "a range of specialist officers on duty," the force said.

Image caption Armed police were stationed on gates and at other key locations

It is the seventh year the event has been held in the park and organisers worked 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 on Monday when a van struck a number of people.

Image caption Organisers estimate 100,000 joined in prayers at the start of the event

Birmingham Central Mosque's chairman 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.

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 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: "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 Mohammed Afzal said many Muslims felt "under siege" after recent terror attacks

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