More likely, the Muslims did it themselves.
A right-wing arson attack? 'EDL' graffiti found after Muswell Hill mosque is
burnt down amid fears of Woolwich connection attack
Counter-terrorism police are investigating a suspected racially motivated
arson attack on a Somali community centre in Muswell Hill, north London, by
a far-right group amid fears of a backlash against the Muslim community
following the Woolwich terror attack.
Investigators are examining the wreckage of the damaged Bravanese Welfare
Centre in north London after the three letters EDL - English Defence League
- were found freshly painted on the building's outside walls, according to
the centre's leaders and police.
The leader of the EDL, a group that shuns mainstream political activity in
favour of volatile street protests against immigration, denied any role and
said that any such attack would be "disgusting".
If it proves to be an attack from a far-right group, it will be the most
serious so far despite a reported reduction in incidents of reported abuse
against the Muslim community following the Woolwich attack that killed
Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, on May 22.
Scotland Yard specialist investigators are conducting a fingertip search of
the area in Muswell Hill and trying to establish if the daubed paint was
linked to the fire, which is currently being treated as "suspicious".
Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher said: "Obviously a focal point of the
investigation will be establishing whether that is connected to the fire".
The fire brigade was called at 3.23am amid reports of an explosion at the
centre and nobody was believed to be at the centre at the time.
Senior community leaders told The Independent that the building, which
partially collapsed after the fire, has never before been the target of an
attack. One woman living nearby was treated for shock.
The attack has been passed to the Yard's counter-terrorism team which has
specialist knowledge of the EDL, founded in 2009 in response to protests by
radical Islamists at a homecoming parade for soliders returning from Iraq.
The EDL and has built up an active membership of up to 35,000 people,
according to the Demos thinktank, though splits within its ranks have meant
that its volatile street demonstrations are mustering only a few hundred
The Government's own counter-terrorism strategy in March this year said: "We
know these extreme Islamist and far right organisations feed off one another
and try to create enmity, suspicions and hatred between our communities."
Condemnation for the attack came swiftly from across the political spectrum
with London Mayor Boris Johnson describing the attack as "cowardly, pathetic
and utterly pointless".
"There is no place in an open, tolerant and diverse city like London for
hate, for prejudice, for violence," he said.
The EDL's leader Tommy Robinson said he doubted any members of the group
were behind the graffiti but condemned the attack. "I may be proved wrong,
but EDL graffiti gets used for a lot of things," he said. "I'm always
Asked if he would report any of his members, he said: "I would, they have
put innocent people's lives in danger. It's disgusting. I've asked our
members never to attack mosques or Muslims. The police will find out who has
done that and they will be rightly punished."
The fire comes at a sensitive time following the Woolwich attack and in the
week that a group of Islamist extremists are due to be sentenced over a
murderous but ultimately bungled plot to launch a gun and bomb attack on
hundreds of people attending an EDL rally in Dewsbury last year.
There was shock in Muswell Hill where the suspected attack happened where
leaders described it as an attack on a peaceful community.
The centre was not a mosque or used for prayer but hosted Arabic classes for
members of the Sudanese and Somali community during the week, said police.
Becky Marks, whose 5-year-old daughter goes to the school next door, said:
"one of the things about this community is that it's so diverse. It's just
utterly unbelievable, completely shocking, so unexpected in this area."
Marcia, who declined to give her last name, has lived on the estate by the
centre for 46 years since moving from Jamaica. "I've never felt reluctant to
walk the street at night before because of the colour of my skin. Now I'll
think again," she said. source Independent
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