A have-a-go-hero chased a gang of four men who tried to set fire to the Union flag while allegedly chanting ‘Allahu’akbar’ in a London suburb, according to locals.
Police were called just after 6pm on Monday on Church Street, in Twickenham, following reports the group were trying to remove and set fire to the flags outside The Fox pub.
A bartender who works on the quaint pedestrianised London street, who asked not to be named, relayed the incident as it was described to her by a regular pub-goer, who got allegedly got stuck in to stop the rabble.
She said that during the incident the regular chased one of the group, who were described to her as Asian, and heard them saying ‘Allahu’akbar’.
The Metropolitan Police said that a 17-year-old and two 18-year-olds were arrested at the scene on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage and inciting racial hatred.
A have-a-go-hero chased a gang of four men who tried to set fire to the Union flag outside The Fox pub on Church Street (pictured) in Twickenham while allegedly chanting ‘Allahu’akbar’, according to locals
Police were called just after 6pm on Monday on Church Street, in Twickenham, following reports the group were trying to remove and set fire to the flags outisde the pub (pictured)
The bartender was told the men were Asian but couldn’t specify where from, adding that police only apprehended three out of four of the men.
She said: ‘It was one of our regulars that was in the middle of it. He caught one of the guys.’
A man from Snax Coffee Shop reportedly told her someone stole the flag from near his shop, which is at the top of Church Street near the main road, and a few metres from The Fox Pub.
The bartender explained: ‘All I’ve heard is that the boy from Snax said somebody took the flag around there [towards the Fox Pub] and started burning it.
‘Then he ran up to [the regular], who says he chased the guy.
‘There was four of them, three have been caught and one is on the loose.
‘[The regular], apparently he heard them say Allahu’akbar’.
‘This is such a nice place, it seems to be getting worse. It used to be quite safe.’
Large flags stick out from all of the boutique shops and food stops along the idyllic pedestrianised street.
As of last week, the majority have been switched to black and orange pumpkins for Halloween.
The Fox Pub confirmed two ‘British flags’ were stolen from outside its building.
A waiter at Naz Balti, an Indian restaurant immediately opposite The Fox, said the pub used to have two Union flags hanging outside.
He pointed out that they had been severed from their stands, adding the alleged flag burning would be a ‘big offence.’
The Met said that a 17-year-old and two 18-year-olds were arrested at the scene on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage and inciting racial hatred
Atin Miah, who has lived in Twickenham since 1973, said: ‘This area, as far as we know, we have never had a problem. I’ve never seen a problem.
‘It’s one of the best streets in Middlesex, people are so nice.
‘I came in today, I heard from one of my colleagues, something happened yesterday.
‘What are they doing? It’s bad, seriously. If I had a customer in here, if someone just got into the restaurant, how would we feel?
‘They’re stupid. What do they think is going to happen by taking the flags anyway?
‘This is a big offence, because in Britain, along with other countries, it is really respected, that flag. That is important, not only for here, all over the world.’
A beautician, who works at a parlour and wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘I know I left here about 7.15pm, there were a few policemen.
‘I just saw the police afterwards, I was a little confused because there was no Union Jack flag [outside the pub], it’s all Halloween flags.’
A woman who runs Bubble Tea Hut, who would not give her name, said: ‘I remember I saw people running down, I was like ‘oh, what’s going on?”
She added that she was cleaning her bubble tea store last night and thought she would have seen people burning flags.
A spokesperson for the Fox said said they handed in footage of the incident to the cops.
They said: ‘We are assisting police with their investigation following two British flags having been stolen from outside our premises.
‘We would like to reassure our customers that safety of our customers is our number one priority and our CCTV has been handed over to the police.’
A Met Police spokesperson said the three men remain in custody and are being questioned.
They said: ‘At 18:09hrs on Monday, 23 October police were called to Church Street, Twickenham following reports of a group trying to remove and set fire to Union flags.
‘Three men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage and inciting racial hatred.
‘It is alleged the men made reference to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza.
‘They were taken into custody where they remain for questioning.
‘Anyone who witnessed the incident, who has video footage or photos, or who can assist the investigation in any way is asked to call 101, giving the reference 5975/23OCT.’