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Stoke EDL mosque arsonists get 10 years

Anti-fascist | 10.12.2011 13:36 | Anti-racism | Birmingham

Two men have been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of setting fire to a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent.

Simon Beech, 23, and Garreth Foster, 29, were found guilty of setting fire to the Regent Road mosque in the Hanley area of Stoke-on-Trent last December.

Beech, a serving British Army soldier at the time of the arson attack, told the court he was a member of both the English Defence League and the British National Party.

The pair started a fire on the ground floor of the mosque and ran a gas pipe into the building from a nearby gas meter in a bid to spark an explosion at the mosque, which suffered about £50,000 damage as a result of the fire.

Some of the evidence against him came directly from his facebook account which was full of racist comments about Muslims, such as the November 11 post "The time has come. They burn our poppies, we burn their place. Burn the lot of them out." and "bashing skulls, dirty, rotten rodents, they breed like rats here, they need to die like rats” and “I say we need to start taking things into our own hands because they are running the place”.

Many of the people on his friends list where also know fascists with similar views and Beech "liked" a comment made by one fascist who posted: ‘Nuke all mosques’

A few days before the arson attack during an EDL march in Preston, EDL members can be seen chanting ‘Burn a mosque down, burn a mosque.’ as this video shows.

The pair both denied committing arson with intent to endanger life and Beech even said he was not racist and did not believe his views to be extreme.

The EDL were responsible for the roit in the Hanley area of Stoke in January last year in which 17 people were arrested.

The BNP have managed to elect several councillors over the years in Stoke but lost all their seats at the last election in May.