A masjid in Muswell Hill, north London has been destroyed after a blaze in what is feared to be a revenge attack for the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
The fire was started in the early hours of the morning. Six fire engines and around 35 fire-fighters took nearly an hour and a half to get the blaze under control as the building collapsed.
Police are probing if members of the English Defence League (EDL) started the inferno after graffiti reading EDL was found on the building as fire crews battled the blaze at the Bravanese Community Centre which has enjoyed a peaceful existence in Muswell Hill, North London, for 20 years.
Two properties close to the fire were evacuated and one woman suffered shock and was treated at the scene, London Ambulance Service said.
Speaking to Radio Islam’s Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat, Massoud Shadjareh the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said, “It seems to be very little doubt that this was a racist, Islamphobic hate crime and like many others that have happened in the last couple of weeks since this Woolwich incident.”
“In 2011 we did a research which is accepted; academically it will be accurate to 2 points. We find the that 13% of the Muslims at that time were victims of physical attack back then already…There was no attempt made to actually address the underlying issue of anti-Muslim bigotry which is being done not only by EDL but mainstream media personality and indeed politicians, even current politicians. They all playing into this sort of Islamphobic hype,” said Shadjareh
Shadjareh reiterates the acts of a few are being blamed on all Muslims and says a taskforce is being setup to deal with “extremism” but asks what is extremism exactly? “Sometimes people refer to me, I am extremist because I’ve got beard, and I’m extremist because I pray 5 times a day.” Is that an extremist?”
“I think it is becoming more difficult as a Muslim to live anywhere you know and I think we getting brunt of it here (UK)…In reality when we look at the Ahadith that we got, there comes a time, that holding on our Deen (religion)is gonna become like holding onto a burning coal, “said Shadjareh.
Lul Abukar whose cousin Abu Bakar Ali runs the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, said the centre was largely attended by children for learning and prayer and she had spent much of her childhood at the community centre.
The interior design assistant, from nearby East Finchley, added: “It’s really a shock. My sister and brother spent most of their time there too. “It’s a very peaceful place. It is not radical, nothing to do with all the terrorism that’s going on.”
Faith Matters, a group which monitors anti-Muslim hatred, said there had been ten attacks on mosques in two weeks. Spokesman Fiyaz Mugha said: “Bearing in mind this is close to Woolwich, bearing in mind that it houses Islamic activities, bearing in mind that they have found alleged EDL graffiti, there’s a strong likelihood that this could be an anti-Muslim incident.
“It is very concerning when we know that, online, there is a huge amount of anti-Muslim hate. We know that. When it moves into the physical world, it is extremely concerning,” said Mugha
Scotland Yard said the Counter Terrorism Command would conduct a “vigorous and thorough” investigation into the blaze while Cops say they have “started consulting and will work closely with the Somali and Islamic communities to provide support and reassurance”.
Meanwhile Kevin Carroll, of the EDL, said: “The EDL do not approve of any religious buildings being attacked.”