London Islamic center arson 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – Muslim groups in the UK are calling for Islamophobia to be taken
seriously after an Islamic center in London was burned down in a suspected
racially motivated attack on Wednesday.
Tensions have been high in the
capital since two radical Muslim converts brutally hacked to death Lee Rigby, a
British soldier, on a London street last month.
On Wednesday, the
Somalian Islamic Bravanese Welfare Center in Muswell Hill, north London was
burnt to the ground in a suspected arson attack. The far-right English Defence
League has been linked to the attack after the letters “EDL” were found sprayed
in paint on an adjacent wall.
In a statement on Thursday, the Muslim
Council of Britain called for police to tackle anti-Muslim attacks seriously,
and for the media to exercise responsibility and not give a platform to
extremists of any background.
Farooq Murad, the council’s
secretary-general, said that “this is the latest in a series of attacks on
Muslim institutions since the horrific murder of Lee Rigby. The British Muslim
community came out in droves to condemn this murder, and it is despicable that
Muslims should be held to account and suffer in this way.”
finger at the EDL, Murad said it was time for action against such
“We had fine and decisive words from our leaders condemning the
actions of the EDL, now we need a proper response from our police authorities,
starting with a national police response to this issue. Admirably, local police
forces and borough commanders have been liaising with communities,” he
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the
“There is no place in an open, tolerant and diverse city like
London for hate, for prejudice, for violence,” he said. “London is a city built
on the strength of its communities.
Londoners will see this for what it
is – cowardly, pathetic and utterly pointless.”
The Jewish community in
London condemned the fire and expressed solidarity with the Muslim
The rabbi of Muswell Hill synagogue said it would not disrupt
the harmony between the communities and offered the community’s
“This terrible attack on a peaceful community center has shocked us
all and the sympathies of everyone at Muswell Hill Synagogue are with our local
Muslim community today,” said Rabbi David Mason. “We will work to ensure that
the community have all the support they need and that this disgraceful incident
does not disrupt the harmony that exists between all our local
The Board of Deputies of British Jews expressed concern
over the attack.
“Attacks of this nature are an affront not only to the
Muslim community, not only to all minority groups, but to all decent people in
this country,” said Board president Vivian Wineman.
Tommy Robinson, the
leader of the EDL, denied that his group was behind the attack.
maintained that EDL members have always been instructed not to attack mosques or
other places of worship and claimed there was a “nationwide campaign” to vilify
Since the murder of Lee Rigby, campaigners say that
anti-Muslim incidents have increased across the country with 11 mosques
Monitoring group Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) have
said that there has been 632 hate incidents targeting Muslims since March 2012.