This piece, by Helen Johnson, is from the Rochdale Observer.
THE pastor of Zion Baptist Church has expressed his disappointment after vandals daubed anti-semitic graffiti on the church wall.
An insult aimed at Israeli Jews as well as the words ‘Free Gaza’ were painted in metre high letters on the outside wall of the Milkstone Road church.
The word Israel was partially written onto the side of the church itself, while the rear of the building was daubed with slogans, and a graffiti ‘tag’ thought to be that of a local gang.
Pastor Dennis Rigg discovered the graffiti on Friday morning after being alerted by the Observer, who were contacted by a concerned resident.
The graffiti was painted over within hours and later removed by the council’s environmental management service.
Mr Rigg says he believes the church’s name made it a target for those upset by the current situation in the Middle East. He said: “We were disappointed that the people who have committed this offence have no consideration for other people’s property. It shows a poor mental attitude and is just another act of contempt and lack of respect.”
The incident has been condemned by several high-profile figures in the Muslim community.
Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Rochdale-based Ramadhan Foundation, said: “I am appalled at the attack. Islam totally forbids this sort of evil and we offer our support to our Christian friends.”
Ghulam Rasul Shahzad says he intends to raise the issue at the next meeting of the Ruet-i-Hilal committee, an association of all Rochdale Mosques.
Mr Shazad said: “At this critical time when feelings are very high, we should maintain unity among our communities whatever the circumstances or situation in Gaza is.”
Mr Rigg added: “I was pleased Councillor Angela Coric arranged to have the graffiti covered over and removed so quickly, as the last thing we want is retaliation for this.”
The attack has ignited calls for CCTV to be installed in the area.