Wife of Vicar Beaten for "Being a Christian" by Asian Yobs Speaks of Shock at Faith Hate Attack

Last updated at 09:12am
17th March 2008

The wife of a clergyman beaten up in his churchyard in a suspected "faith hate" crime has spoken of the shock felt by his congregation. Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, was set upon by three Asian youths shouting anti-Christian abuse when he confronted them for rowdy behaviour outside St George-in-the-East church in Shadwell, leaving him with two black eyes and cuts and bruises.

His wife, Janina Ainsworth, 56, took Palm Sunday services yesterday after Canon Ainsworth was re-admitted to hospital for his injuries. She said: "It is obvious that it does contain a religious element.

"Quite clearly, there are mindless individuals in every community under the influence of drink and drugs who will engage in random acts of violence. But we're very shocked."

She said her husband was expected home to the rectory next to the church in Cannon Street Road tonight.

"We do know that churchyards have been quite vulnerable places so we are going to be working with the church, the police and the local council to look at security," she added.

Wife Jan insists her husband feared publicity over the attack could lead to racial tension

"Normally community relations here are very good. We have had very strong messages of support from the East London Mosque and Tower Hamlets Mosque with whom we've got good relations."

Michael Saward, 75, said: "I saw Michael about 10 days ago and he looked very frail and fragile with two large black eyes. Obviously we're all very shocked."

Police have confirmed the case is being treated as a faith-hate crime and no arrests have been made.

The Rev Alan Green, area dean for Tower Hamlets and chairman of the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum, said: "Any incident that involves an element of abusive faith-related language should be handled in this way.
"An important part of the work of the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum is to bring together representatives from our local faith communities, the borough council and the Metropolitan Police to monitor and respond to all reported faith-hate incidents.

"This ensures that we protect people of all faiths or none and maintain the good relations that exist locally between our diverse population."

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