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Counter-terrorism police leading mosque fire inquiries

DESTRUCTION: The fire damaged Bravanese Centre near Muswell Hill in north London (PA)

SPECIAL COUNTER-TERRORIST police are heading up the investigation into the fire that destroyed a north London mosque in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The blaze that made the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association centre, near Muswell Hill, collapse is being treated as suspicious by authorities, and witnesses at the scene claim they saw graffiti sprayed on the centre’s exterior saying “EDL” – which suggests any potential arsonist be a member of the English Defence League.

The EDL, a far-right group whose members mainly appear to be white skin-heads kitted out in St George’s cross paraphernalia, have been vocal in protesting on the streets since the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.

The two main suspects of his murder are Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 – both men, who have been remanded in police custody claim to be Muslims acting out of religious convictions.

Since the killing of the army drummer, there has been an increase in reported crimes against Muslims and Islamic institutions.

In reaction to the fire brought down the centre, Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told The Voice that he was not surprised an attack of this nature had been carried out on a Islamic centre, and that police had so far failed to sufficiently protect Muslims from hate crimes.

“Mosques need to receive protection,” he said.

“Society knew this would happen and they [police] should have been proactive. It was obvious.”

The Met confirmed they are following up “any potential connection” linking the EDL to the fire.

No arrests have been as of yet.

Borough chief superintendent Adrian Usher said: “I have spoken to community leaders and assured them that a thorough investigation is being conducted.

“The safety of our communities is always our priority and we are consulting widely, offering our support and reassurance.

“All communities can be confident that they have our support and I can be contacted personally to answer their concerns”, he added.

Detectives on the case have appealed for witnesses to come forward “who were in the vicinity of Coppetts Road on the evening of June 4 or the early hours of June 5”.

Anyone who can assist police should call the Incident Room on 020 7230 2299, or should contact anonymously Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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