Radio Sandwell News

Al-Rahma Islamic Centre destroyed in 'racist attack'

2013-06-05 20:35:45

An Islamic centre in north London has been destroyed by a fire in an apparent racially motivated attack.

The Met Police said the fire, which happened at the Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill in the early hours, is being treated as suspicious.

A spokesman said the letters EDL (English Defence League) were sprayed on to the building, used by the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association.

London Mayor Boris Johnson called the attack "cowardly and pathetic".

The Met's Counter Terrorism Command are investigating the cause of the fire on Coppetts Road.

BBC London correspondent Kurt Barling, who is at the scene, said the centre's leaders had told him they had seen freshly sprayed racist graffiti on the building and they were concerned the fire was in reaction to the killing of a soldier in Woolwich. Two men have been charged in connection with the attack.

'Appalled and saddened'

It was not used for prayers, but as a community centre which was mainly used by children after school.

Abu Bakar Ali, from the centre, said: "The Somali community is in fear.


"We are all shocked about what has happened and we strongly condemn the attack on the centre. As you can see, the situation is a very serious one indeed.

"We are appalled and deeply saddened by the horrific and foolish act against a peaceful community. While no one was thankfully physically hurt in the attack, the effects of this crime will be felt very deeply."

Borough Ch Supt Adrian Usher said the EDL graffiti was found on the outside of the building.

He said the Counter Terrorism Command Unit was investigating the incident because of their expertise, rather than it being terrorism related. He said nothing was being ruled out at this stage until they can disprove it.

Mr Usher added that he did not believe anyone was inside at the time of the blaze.

"I have spoken to community leaders and assured them that a thorough investigation is being conducted.

"The safety of our communities is always our priority and we are consulting widely, offering our support and reassurance.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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