A devastating arson at an Islamic community and education centre in Hayes in West London has left local Muslims fearful as the police investigation is ongoing.
Generous members of the public have since raised over £30,000 via the donation platform GoFundMe, more than doubling the £8,000 of donations yesterday.
The GoFundMe page added, “At this time, we cannot rule out that this was not an Islamaphobic or a hate crime”.
Each donation they added would make a difference as, “Together with your support, we can overcome this attack and ensure our beloved Institute reopens as a symbol of social cohesion and local unity.”
The Al-Falah Institute estimate the arson has caused huge damage and destruction to computers, fans, furniture, doors, security cameras, photocopier, carpets and Islamic texts.
In a press release, the charity outlined an earlier burglary had resulted in broken windows, the forced opening of a donation box and other damage in the kitchen area on September 26. Adding that when calling to report the burglary, officers would not attend until the following morning, citing ‘business’.
Hours later, news of the arson reached staff at around 2 am from their insurance company, with the fire brigade and police responding to black smoke at the building.
Photos of the damage, described as “distressing” that “shakes your heart to the core” show fire damage to “rooms, lights, cameras, doors, windows, skimming on walls, books that were burned in the fire… there is soot everywhere – on the walls, on books, cabinets, ceilings, tables, chairs, cushions, carpets.”
The charity supports women and children with free skills classes, in collaboration with Langley College, that include ESOL/English, Maths, and IT lessons. They bring communities together with coffee mornings and work to provide spaces for prayer, learning and community events, MyLondonNews reported.
More broadly, in the summer, we published the findings of a joint survey between ITV News and Tell MAMA which revealed that of the 117 mosques surveyed, almost 90 per cent experienced anti-Muslim hate crimes in the previous 12 months, with some mosques describing far-right intimidation and agitations. Another notable finding from the survey revealed that examples of graffiti and vandalism appeared in responses – including within prayer rooms or stones thrown at windows or broken windows. In one example, someone set fire to a bin outside the mosque. ITV News highlighted examples of “threatening letters, acts of violence, and in one case, having faeces smeared across their walls.”
In a statement to MyLondonNews, the Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are investigating the fire as arson and working to establish a connection between it and the earlier burglary.
We are liaising further with the Metropolitan Police and endeavour to provide further updates where possible.
Anyone with information that can assist the investigation is urged to call 101 quoting the crime reference 603/27SEP23. Tell MAMA can pass information forward on your behalf and anonymously.