Islamic center in London destroyed by fire after possible racist attack


Fire officers walk past the fire damaged Al-Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill on June 5, 2013 in London, England. Counter-terrorism officers have been called in amid suspicions that it was a racially motivated attack.


Peter Macdiarmid

An Islamic center north of London was destroyed Wednesday by a fire in what is believed to be a racially-motivated attack.

The Al Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill was said to have the letters EDL (English Defence League) sprayed on the building.

EDL is a right-wing protest movement that opposes the spread of Islam and Sharia law in the UK.

It is not clear if the graffiti was connected to the fire.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud explosion in the early hours of Wednesday morning near the center.

The fire is being treated as suspicious by police.

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"The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and is being treated as suspicious at this stage … Graffiti reading EDL has been found on the building. Police are investigating any potential connection between the graffiti and the fire," said Scotland Yard, according to the Guardian.

London Mayor Boris Johnson called the attack "cowardly and pathetic," said BBC.

"There is no place in an open, tolerant and diverse city like London for hate, for prejudice, for violence."

It took 35 firefighters to battle the blaze.