Islamic Centre set alight hours after Manchester attack

23rd Jun 2017
Islamic Centre set alight hours after Manchester attack

Well-wishers left messages on the walls of Jamia Qasmia Zahidia Islamic Centre following an arson attack on May 23  (Photo: Anti-Islamaphobia ‘Love Bomb’/Facebook)

Harun Nasrullah

Arsonists have burnt down a door at an Islamic centre in Greater Manchester just hours after 22 people lost their lives in a terror attack at Manchester Arena.

The door at Jamia Qasmia Zahidia Islamic Centre on Villa Road, Oldham, was set alight at around 3 am on May 23.

Imam Mohammad Saddiq, 60, said: “Somebody has started a fire through our letterbox. The door is completely burnt down. A member of the public was walking past and called the fire brigade. Thankfully nobody was inside at the time.”

He added, “We have no idea why somebody would target us. We are a religious and educational centre. I’ve been involved her for three years and never dealt with anything like this.”

One of the worshippers at the mosque, Hamad Mukhtar Irfani, thanked one of the many well wishers.

“Many thanks to Becky for her kind words at this time. This has helped to restore our faith in humanity. In difficult times it is sometimes tragedies and atrocities that unite us and make us stronger to prevail over evil.”

Irfani told the people to be calm. “Please can I request all not to retaliate and come together as one community in these difficult times. Please do not leave any inappropriate comments.”

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is treating the incident as a hate crime and has released CCTV of a suspect approaching the centre’s front door before setting fire to it. The clip shows large flames before a man runs away from the mosque.

GMP Detective Inspector, Ian Harratt, said: “In the wake of the atrocities that happened at the Manchester Arena, this man thought it was acceptable to deface and set fire to a local mosque. This behaviour will not be tolerated.”

He voiced solidarity with Greater Manchester’s Muslim community insisting, “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with the community in Oldham and all the people who treasure this mosque as a place of worship. We have been working with people in the local community and the council to make sure that people realise there is zero tolerance around vindictive acts of this nature.”

Police are looking for a white man, wearing light trousers and a lightly padded jacket. They say he was carrying a bottle of accelerant and had a BMX bike with him.

A week after the arson attack a group of well-wishers left good will messages on the Islamic Centre’s walls using heart-shaped post-it notes.

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