LONDON (Reuters) - A mosque burned down in Britain in a suspected arson attack on Wednesday, intensifying fears of a backlash against Muslims after a British soldier was killed on a London street last month.
Police said they were treating the mosque fire as suspicious and that the letters “EDL” had been found scrawled on the side of the building. EDL is the acronym of the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right group that has held several protests in London and elsewhere since the murder.
The EDL denied any involvement.
“Exactly when and where that graffiti was placed is a focal point of the inquiry,” Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher said in televised remarks.
The Islamic centre in the Muswell Hill neighbourhood of north London was mainly used by the local Somali community. Fire brigades were called to the scene overnight after reports of an explosion. No one was hurt.
Last week a mosque in the northeastern city of Grimsby was pelted by petrol bombs and similar attacks were reported in the south of England after the May 22 murder of Lee Rigby, a serving soldier.
Police, politicians and religious leaders have called for calm and unity after the murder. Rigby’s family has appealed against any reprisals.
“This is the latest in a series of attacks on Muslim institutions since the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby,” Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement.
“The British Muslim community came out in droves to condemn this murder, and it is despicable that Muslims should be held to account and suffer in this way.”
Reporting By Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robin Pomeroy