Arson Attack on Essex Mosque

islamic centre
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Police in Braintree, Essex, are seeking two men who attempted to break into the Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre and lit a small fire at one of its entrances, reports the Daily Mail.

The pair carried out the attack late at night, shortly after the pubs were closed, and are believed to have been intoxicated.

The centre’s secretary, Sikander Sleemy, described them as “two drunk guys who didn’t know what they were doing and were being stupid”, but Essex Police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“They passed by and stumbled across to the mosque, or realised it was a mosque, and have had a bit of fun,” said Mr Sleemy.

“I think the first boy tried to break in but couldn’t and they grabbed some rubbish and set it alight and threw it on the porch area on the roof,” he noted, but it simply burned and fell off “because of the weight of the bag”.

He added: “It was burning when one of our taxi drivers was passing. He put the fire out with a bottle of water.”

Mr Sleemy said it was fortunate the bag was as heavy as it was, or the fire could have spread across the roof and become much more serious.

Braintree Chief Inspector Craig Carrington described the attack as a “concerning but rare incident” and urged anyone who could help identify the attackers to come forward.

“We are investigating the offence and are working with our partners to reassure the community at this time,” Chief Inspector Carrington added.

The Al Falah centre was last targeted in May 2013, hours after off-duty soldier Lee Rigby was beheaded in the street by Islamist radicals.

Construction worker Geoffrey Ryan, who threw a smoke grenade into the centre and brandished knives at local worshippers, was imprisoned for nine months.