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UK Islamic centre gutted in suspected racist attack

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 21:09

London: An Islamic centre in north London was burnt down on Wednesday in what the country`s counter-terrorism officers suspect to be a racially-motivated arson attack, allegedly by a far-right group.

The Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, north London, was burnt down early this morning and the Metropolitan police believe the fire may have been started deliberately.

Scotland Yard`s counter-terrorism officers are investigating the suspected racially-motivated arson attack on the Somali community centre.

Officers have confirmed the letters "EDL", which stand for the right-wing English Defence League, were found sprayed on the two-storey building which partially collapsed as a result of the fire.

"The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and is being treated as suspicious at this stage. No one has been reported injured at this time," a Scotland Yard spokesperson said.

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

Emergency services were called in and six fire crews battled the blaze for more than an hour.

Two nearby properties on Coppetts Road had to be evacuated.

One woman suffered shock and was treated at the scene, London Ambulance Service said.

"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," said the local borough`s chief superintendent, Adrian Usher.

Community leaders at the centre, used by the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, fear the attack may have been in reaction to the killing of soldier Lee Rigby by suspected Islamist extremists in Woolwich, south-east London, last month.

"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," Abubakar Ali, from the centre, said.

Faith Matters, a group which monitors anti-Muslim hatred, has been warning against the alarming rise of Islamophobic incidents in and around London since the attack on the 25-year-old soldier on May 22.

On Saturday, members of the EDL and British National Party, another right-wing political group, had marched in the city in protest over the killing.


First Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 21:09

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