We live in extraordinary and worrying times, with particular concerns for our diverse communities. After the spate of recent awful attacks at Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park it was upsetting to hear about the despicable arson attack at the Nasfat Islamic Centre in Manchester.
This is the third suspicious fire to take place at a mosque within the UK over recent years. The freedom to practice a religion of choice is one of the cornerstones of British values, and no Muslim should fear to practice their religion.
This was nothing short of a ‘Hate Crime‘, with a devastating damage to the main hall and three classrooms within the mosque. Thankfully no-one was hurt and the Fire Service was very efficient. This arson attack has happened at a time when Greater Manchester Police confirm hate crime has increased by an astonishing 500% since the Manchester Arena Attack. The huge rise in Islamophobia is not acceptable; we all need to do more to root out division and hatred in our communities.
I will never forget the heart-warming experience of witnessing Muslims from all over the country volunteering in Cumbria following the December 2015 floods. In times of greatest need these people showed us the true face of Islam. It was honour for me to work closely with the Al-Imdaad Foundation and others who did a tremendous job, cleaning up and providing food and comfort to the victims.
As the President of Stand up to Racism (Greater Manchester), I am really proud of our activists who on Friday 21st July joined the congregation from the Nasfet Mosque, to show solidarity and send out a clear message that racism will not divide us.
My thoughts are with everyone that was affected by this appalling arson attack, especially those who are psychologically and emotionally affected. It is important that the safety of our mosques and the wider Muslim community is taken seriously. I fully support the joint investigation being carried out by Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and I hope those responsible will be brought to answer for their crime through proper judicial process.