London Islamic centre fire: Footage shows dramatic moment blaze took hold

Counter-terror police investigating whether is was racially-motivated attack

Mobile phone footage shows the moment flames took hold of an Islamic community centre which was eventually burned to the ground.

Flames shoot up above the roof turning the night sky orange as smoke billows upwards. Sirens herald the arrival of a further fire engine in addition to the two already there. 

Counter-terror police are now investigating whether it was a racially-motivated attack after the letters EDL - apparently referencing the English Defence League - were found on the wrecked building in Muswell Hill, North London.

The building was home to the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association - also known as the Al-Rahma Islamic Centre - described as a place for learning, cultural activities and prayer.

It was cordoned off this afternoon as specialist teams examined the scene following the fire which broke out shortly after 3am.

Scotland Yard said investigation teams, led by the Met's counter-terrorism command, would conduct a "vigorous and thorough" investigation into the blaze which caused the building to partially collapse and saw one woman treated for shock at the scene.

Officers will now examine any potential connection between the fire and the graffiti.

[London Mosque Fire: Police Investigate Cause]

Those who attended the cultural centre called the fire an "appalling attack" on a peaceful community.

Fiyaz Mughal, of Faith Matters, a group which monitors anti-Muslim hatred, added: "Bearing in mind this is close to Woolwich, bearing in mind that it houses Islamic activities, bearing in mind that they have found alleged EDL graffiti, there's a strong likelihood that this could be an anti-Muslim incident.

"It is very concerning when we know that, online, there is a huge amount of anti-Muslim hate. We know that.

"When it moves into the physical world, it is extremely concerning."

Police have refused to be drawn on whether they are linking the blaze to a backlash against Drummer Lee Rigby's death last month.

  • Anyone with information is asked to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.