Leeds mosque and gurdwara targeted in arson attack

29th Jun 2018
Leeds mosque and gurdwara targeted in arson attack

(Photo: Twitter/@doaMuslims)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Two early-morning arson attacks on a mosque and gurdwara [Sikh place of worship] in Leeds on June 5 are being treated as hate crimes by police.

West Yorkshire Police was called to the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque in Beeston, where the main door had been set on fire in the early hours.

Vice Chair of the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira, Mahboob Nazir, told The Muslim News that with the exception of receiving sporadic “ad hoc silly letters” the building in Hardy Street, which has been used by Muslims for over 40 years has “never experienced anything like this before”.

According to Nazir worshippers arriving late for the morning prayers at 2:30 am alerted mosque officials of the 7-foot fire burning the door. The fire brigade arrived at 3 am.

Nobody was injured in the fire, including the mosque imam who was asleep upstairs in part of the building unaffected by the fire.
A few minutes later, the door of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara was also set on fire in nearby Lady Pit Lane.

According to the Sikh Press Association, a bottle filled with petrol had been set alight at the doorstep of the Gurdwara, triggering a smoke alarm. Residents called the fire brigade and the police and the fire was quickly dealt with, they said.

Detective Inspector Richard Holmes, of Leeds District CID, said: “While our investigation is still at a relatively early stage, we do believe these premises have been specifically targeted as places of worship and we are treating both incidents as arsons and hate crimes.”

“Clearly we will always treat incidents of this nature very seriously and will be doing everything we can to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”

In a statement, representatives of the Gurdwara, said: “It is damaging for children to see their Gurdwara or Mosque threatened like this. The police are happy to come to talk to children if the community feels this will not deter youngsters coming to the Gurdwara on their own.”

Inspector Ian O’Brien, who heads neighbourhood policing for south Leeds, said: “These incidents will cause an understandable level of concern in both the Muslim and Sikh communities in this area and we are working closely with key representatives from those communities to reassure them.

“Although it appears both locations have been specifically targeted as places of worship for these communities, there is nothing at this stage to suggest they are part of any wider pattern.”A 42-year-old has since been arrested at an address in Leeds on suspicion of arson in relation to the fires.

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