Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2004 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
Byline: CAROLINE WHEELER
SICK thieves have stolen a book of condolence which was opened at a Midland mosque in memory of the 200 people killed in the Madrid bombings.
Birmingham Central Mosque launched the tribute to those who died on Thursday as a clear sign that its Muslim members condemned acts of terrorism.
But less than 24 hours after the first written tributes were paid, the book was stolen by callous crooks.
Last night mosque officials appealed to the raiders to return the book, which they had hoped to send to the families of the Spanish victims.
Adam Yosef, who works at the mosque in Highgate, Birmingham, said crooks struck during yesterday's afternoon prayers.
'The last time I saw the book was when we went in for prayers at 1.15pm,' he said. 'By the time we came out 15 minutes later the book was gone.
'We can't believe anyone could do anything so cruel. We are appealing for anyonewho has the book, or who knows anything about its disappearance, to come forward.'
Mr Yosef said that it was the first time the mosque had ever opened a book of condolence.
'As soon as there was mention that al Qaida could be involved we started to get a lot of hate mail.
'That's whenwe decided to open a book of condolence as a mark of solidarity with the victims and to show the wider community that we are against terrorism.
'I don't know why anyone would want to steal the book. But there is a chance that someone knows it is the first time we have done such a thing, and they want to hold on to it as a piece of history.'
The book was opened on Friday by the chairman of the mosque Dr Mohammed Naseem, whoe told the congregation: 'The Muslim community has been deeply affected by the bomb attacks.
'We want to convey to the community that we do not condone terrorist acts and also show solidarity with the victims.'
It is thought that more than 2,000 visitors had signed the two books, which were located in the foyer.
Inspector Mick Pearson, of West Midlands Police, said: 'It is a particularly nasty and horrible thing to have happened.
'Because of the sensitive nature of the crime we have despatched a team to talk with the chairman of the mosque and conduct a thorough investigation.'
Anyone with any information about the missing book should contact the mosque on 0121 4405355 or West Midlands Police on 0845 113 5000.
TRIBUTE: Adam Yosef signs the book of condolences
Source Citation:"CONDOLENCES BOOK IS STOLEN FROM MOSQUE." Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England) (March 14, 2004): 2.