London police are investigating whether the fire that destroyed Somali Bravanese Welfare Association andAl-Rahma Islamic Centre was a hate crime.
The building in Muswell Hill housed an Islamic community centre and a madressah (mosque) was destroyed after the blaze on Wednesday night. Post-fire footage of the building shows that the structure is ‘completely devastated and there is nothing left of it.‘
Six fire engines and around 35 firefighters tackledthe blaze, no casualties were reported. After the incident, when police started its investigations, regular attendees of the institute said that they saw ‘fresh’ racist graffiti which has caused the authorities to thoroughly look into the case in order to find out whether this was a racially motivated attack or not.
There are speculations that they attack was carried out by the English Defense League which is a far-right group in the UK and has been quite vocal about its anti-Islamic stance in the country especially after the brutal killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, a soldier who was slain by a convert Islamist two weeks ago in Woolwich. People in Muswell Hill said that they saw the words ‘EDL’ scrawled on the walls of the structure that collapsed after the fire.
Fire attack on the mosque was also recorded on camera. You can watch the raw footage in the video below:
Muslims are concerned regarding their security now. Some are even complaining about the terrorism factor following the fire at Al-Rahma:
"London mosque destroyed by fire" If Muslims had burnt a church it would be described as an act of terrorism— Tanzil Khawaja (@HoldMeBackBro) June 5, 2013
One user also objected to the use of the term ‘hate crime’ for the Al- Rahma blaze. He tweeted, “Just ‘hate crime’, not terrorism because Muslims didn't do it.”
Hate crimes, especially against British Muslims, have increased during the past few weeks following the Woolwich killing. In the last week of May, it was reported that fears of prolonged backlash against Muslims had intensified after dozens of Islamophobic incidents occurred in the wake of the murder of the British soldier Lee Rigby. The Tell Mama Hotline for recording Islamophobic crimes and incidents recorded 38 incidents on May 22, including attacks on three mosques, with more reported the next day.
The British government tried to tackle the situation by arresting Twitter and Facebook users who were propagating anti-Muslim hate online. Last month, several people were taken into custody for spreading malicious speech against the Muslim community.
EDL has been quite upfront about its anti-Muslim stance and allegedly spread unprovoked hate speech against Islam following the Woolwich attacks. They even carried out protests outside mosques in London including the one at York Mosque where the situation was rather volatile and there was a high chance of violence between the two groups present at the spot. But the Muslims welcomed the EDL activists and offered them a treat including custard creams, tea and biscuits which was followed by a friendly football game.
Following the Al-Rahma mosque attack, the EDL has replied on different social networking forums that there is no solid evidence whether it was them who set fire to the building. On one of its official Facebook page, the Yorkshire EDL Leeds Division said that there was some government conspiracy behind the mosque blaze:
The blame game has been going on for a while but this is something that cannot just be solved by tracking down Muslim or non-Muslim extremist websites. The fire at Al-Rahma is enough proof of the fact that hate crimes are turning into full-fledged violence against communities in the UK.