A man launched a smoke grenade into a mosque and threatened to kill Muslims after he “snapped” following his brother’s death.
Geoffrey Ryan, 44, approached the Al-Falah Braintree Islamic Centre, in Silks Way, Braintree, armed with two knives on the evening of May 22.
He was jailed for nine months on Monday after admitting two charges of having a bladed object in a public place and one charge of affray.
Construction worker Ryan, of Brick Kiln Way, Braintree, threatened centre member Saruk Miah, causing him to fear for his safety.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard Mr Miah had arrived at 7pm, half an hour before evening prayers, to prepare himself a snack.
He had been in the centre for about three or four minutes when he heard an explosion, caused by a yellow smoke grenade thrown into the building.
Ryan then shouted out “I am here to kill you”
The court heard Ryan’s brother had committed suicide a week prior to the incident.
Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC said: “It was an attack both racially and religously motivated and showing hatred on both counts and it is the kind of thing that won’t be tolerated in this country.”
Speaking after the case, Dc Andy Young, of Essex Police, said: “The incident that occurred at the Al-Falah prayer centre caused unnecessary fear, not only for the people who witnessed it, but also local residents at a time when emotions were already running high due to the death of Drummer Lee Rigby in London.
“Ryan’s imprisonment should serve as a warning to others who intend to cause fear and unrest in the community for their own agendas, whether personal or not.
“I would like to thank the members of the Al-Falah prayer centre for their support during the investigation and for their continued efforts in which they have hosted local events intended to increase understanding and tolerance within a multi-cultural community.”
Links to EDL Islamophobia-Watch