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Somali centre burnt down in hate attack re-opens after six years

25th Oct 2019
Somali centre burnt down in hate attack re-opens after six years

Faith Minister, Lord James Younger opens the centre (Photo: Abdul Datoo)

Ahmed J Versi

The Somali Bravanese Welfare Association re-opened its centre at its new site on Tarling Road, Finchley, on September 26, six years after the previous building was burned down in an arson attack.

The original site, in Muswell Hill, North London, burned down on June 5, 2013, was treated as a hate crime by the Metropolitan Police. EDL [English Defence League] was scrawled on a nearby wall. Despite video evidence of the scene, no culprit was ever found.

The Somali Bravanese, a community from the Brava coast in Somalia, came to Britain as refugees during the Somali Civil War in the 1990s.

Since their building was burned down, they have been hosted by nearby synagogues including Finchley Reform Synagogue, Finchley United (Kinloss) Synagogue, as well as Hendon School, Middlesex University Students Union, and Eden School, facilitated by local community alliance, Barnet Citizens.
“We allowed the Somali Bravanese community to use our Synagogue as a mosque every night during Ramadan for the last five years. We built up a special relationship during that time,” Rabbi Miriam Berger, of Finchley Reform Synagogue, told The Muslim News.

The Synagogue also hosted annual joint iftar during Ramadan. “I hope we will continue with our annual iftar, which was a special time for our community,” she said. Abubakar Ali, Chair of the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, said they were “delighted that the children will have a home again. “Many of our community fled war, and so seeing our building go up in flames…it was hard.

“But now our community reopens, with new friends, and we want to thank everyone who helped us get to this point.” Lord James Younger, Faith Minister, who opened the centre, said the evening was “a moment not only to celebrate your contribution to the local community over many years but also to recognise the unity and solidarity we’ve seen among neighbours since those terrible events of 2013.”

The Faith Minister said that the Government condemned all forms of hatred and will “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in facing down hatred and in building strong and inspiring interfaith relations.”

“It is inspiring to me, and it gives you and everyone in your community a renewed sense of hope and optimism,” he added. Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, emphasising the importance of communities working together, said the centre was a “brilliant example of community cohesion…to learn about the wonderful partnerships that have developed between this centre and your Jewish neighbours.”

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