A SECOND priest has been beaten up in his own churchyard in the space of just eight weeks in London’s East End — this time over an argument about a football.
The Rector of St Matthew’s in Bethnal Green, The Rev Kevin Scully, was attacked on Tuesday afternoon by three drunken youths who had returned to take their revenge for a row three days before.
He had taken their ball last Saturday after he saw them using a cross on the church as a basketball hoop.
He has been taunted with religious and racist abuse in the past, but believes the beating was more alcohol-fuelled than anything more sinister.
The attack follows the vicious assault on Canon Michael Ainsworth at St George-in-the-East church in Shadwell in March [see here - FR].
But although that attack was treated as a ‘faith hate’ crime, police consider the latest incident as simple assault.
Fr Scully, 45, who was left with two black eyes, cuts and bruises, told the Advertiser: “I’m still a bit shaken up.
“It came out of an incident where some teenagers were using the front of the church as a basketball hoop.
“I took their ball and told them to leave—but they came back on Tuesday, drunk, to demand their ball back and attacked me.”
He recalled: “One of them was instigating the violence.
“I thought the other two were going to stop it, but in the end they joined in.
“Even a passer-by who saw what was going on and tried to intervene got a kicking too."
Mr Scully, however, insists it was not a ‘policing’ problem, but a ‘community’ problem.
“These are someone’s sons, someone’s brothers,” he said. “These people are known in the community.”
“There is a certain racial and religious element to this,” adds.
“I have been and was taunted religiously — and that is a worrying aspect of it.
“But I would not make that a ‘flag of convenience.’
“These are drunken yobs and that is the shame of it.
“They could probably have a very bright future ahead of them if they only did something about it.”
Police are investigating the assault and say they are looking for three Asian youths, all aged about 16.
Now, there clearly was a "history" between Fr Scully and the three attackers. This does not, of course, excuse their behavior, but it does suggest that they were not motivated solely by Christianophobia or Kuffarphobia.
However, the actions of the three "youths" in this case are, I think, indicative of a certain attitude among Bethnal Green's Muslims, which allows the area's Christian minority to be treated in a manner that would not be tolerated in respect of fellow members of the Ummah. For example, can you imagine that, had these three young men had a similar altercation with an imam, they would have felt such little compunction about going back a few days later and beating the shit out of him? Indeed, would they even have rowed with an imam in the first place? Certainly, I doubt that they would have treated a mosque with the same disrespect that they apparently accorded to St Matthew's Church.
Maybe they didn't attack Fr Scully because he was a white Christian, but it is highly probable that they felt that, being a white Christian, Fr Scully was a more socially acceptable target for violence than he might otherwise have been. In any event, the fact that Fr Scully had been "taunted with religious and racist abuse in the past", taken together with the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth back in March, serves to demonstrate that there clearly is a problem with Christianophobic violence in the East End, with young Muslim men emerging as the principal (indeed, the sole) culprits. Now there's a surprise!
Hat-tip: Laban Tall