27 May 2013

Two arrested over Grimsby Islamic centre fire

Police arrest two people following a fire at an Islamic cultural centre in Lincolnshire after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. But in York, a mosque turns to tea and football to defuse tensions.

Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre.

The Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was targeted by arsonists on Sunday night, despite an increased police presence in the area following another attack on the complex three days ago.

Humberside Police said a fire was started at the centre on Weelsby Road shortly before 10pm. No-one was injured and two people were arrested soon after by officers who were patrolling in the area.

A police spokesman said it was too early to speculate about why the fire was started in Lincolnshire and appealed for witnesses.

The force said that it had discovered a number of messages on social networking sites that appeared to invite people to meet at various locations and cause trouble.

The spokesman added: “Those people should be aware that we are monitoring these sites in Humberside and we will take action against those intent on attempting to incite violence or post messages of a racial nature.”

The centre’s chairman has described how he was inside with a young family when it was hit by petrol bombs.

Read more: British Muslims fear backlash after spike in reported abuse

Diler Gharib told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We had just finished our prayers and were discussing how to thank our neighbours for the support they have shown us over the past few days when we heard a bang and saw fire coming under the door.

“I grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out and then two more petrol bombs hit the fire escape and the bin so I had to put those out too.”

We have all been feeling on edge and now this has happened Diler Gharib, mosque chairman

Mr Gharib said said the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich was a criminal act that had nothing to do with the Muslim faith.

He said: “We have all been feeling on edge and now this has happened. It’s not just the people at the mosque we are worried about, it’s our wives, daughters and children who are out in the community.”

York Mosque invites EDL in for tea
A mosque in York opened its doors to the community – and the EDL – for an impromtu open day after it received threats of a demonstration following the murder of Lee Rigby last week.

After news of a planned EDL demonstration outside the mosque broke, members of the community and leaders of other faith groups visited the mosque on Sunday to show their solidarity.

Abid Salik, the imam at the mosque, said that the spontaneous show of support resulted in a hastily arranged community event at the mosque, complete with a game of football and a cup of tea, which attracted almost 200 people from across the city.

York Mosque and Islamic Centre praised the local community for its support after around 200 people turned up to show their support.

The mosque also attempted to engage with a couple of EDL members who protested outside the mosque on Sunday.

Mr Salik told Channel 4 News that only about six or seven of EDL supporters attended the demonstration and added that a delegation from the mosque went to talk to the them. He said about four of them agreed to come into the mosque and joined the supporters for tea and biscuits.

The event ended with a game of football outside the mosque. “If you want to get to know people you talk to them”, said Mr Salik. “That’s the beauty of this community.”

Wider backlash

The soldier’s murder has provoked a backlash of anger across the country, with mosques being attacked, widespread racial abuse and comments on social media, after the two main suspects told bystanders that the attack was in the name of Allah.

There are at least three sites near the attacks where swastikas have been drawn on street signs and shops (see below).