Home » Featured » Mosque fire: hate crime or terrorism?

Mosque fire: hate crime or terrorism?

TENSION HAS broken out between mosque leaders and the police over how a suspected arson attack on the Nasfat Islamic Centre in Manchester should be classified.

The Centre, in Droylsden Road, Newton Heath, Manchester, caught fire on Sunday night. The fire caused substantial damage to a prayer room and three classrooms, with 30 firefighters turning up to tackle the blaze. Police believe that a window was forced open and a flammable chemical was poured inside to maximise the damage.

Members of the Mosque Committee thanked the firefighters for their work and said they were thankful that no one was in the Centre when the blaze was set. They stressed that relations with the local community are usually very cordial – suggesting that whoever set the fire had come in from outside the immediate area. The last big fire at the centre occurred just after Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich.

Local community leaders are calling on the police to classify the attack as a potential terrorist incident and to investigate whether it was inspired by political, religious, racial or ideological purposes. However, to date the police have classified the fire as a potential hate crime and have stated that they are open minded about what the exact motive for the attack might be. They are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Qasim Chohan of the Manchester Council of Mosques explained the position, saying, “If we don’t speak out or if we turn a blind eye against those that commit these awful crimes, those that spread hate will only increase their grasp on the communities around us. We need to stamp this out now and we urge the police and the security services around us to tackle this terrorism.”

Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry of Greater Manchester Police said, “We are treating this as a hate crime and our investigation into the offence will pursue all lines of inquiry to identify the motive. People are understandably shocked that someone has attacked their place of worship, but can trust that we are taking this investigation extremely seriously.”

This latest attack on the centre is one of many. There have been two previous arson attacks at the centre over the last three years, but there has also been a campaign of harassment which has include verbal abuse, people urinating outside the building and the traditional sophisticated expression of welcome – chucking a pig’s head at the building.

Manchester Council has made a nearby community centre available for the Mosque to use while the damage is repaired. Local residents offered food and water to Mosque members who came to inspect the fire damage on Monday morning – and Muslim and non-Muslim locals have been collecting offers over social media to help rebuild the Centre. Faith leaders have also expressed their sympathy to the Mosque.

Mosque leaders have thanked the Council for their help, but they are also urging the Council and police to find a longer term strategy to deal with anti-social behaviour and attacks on Muslims in the city. According to police figures, there was a fivefold increase in the number of race hate crimes in the Manchester area after the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert: clearly the reprisals are not over.

•Read more about it:
Crowds support graffiti mosque
Bacon mosque assault man dead



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *