‘People were in tears’ - Muslim community’s devastation at mosque arson

Police at the new mosque site in Aylsham Road Norwich. Picture: Simon Parkin

Police at the new mosque site in Aylsham Road Norwich. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Simon Parkin

A Muslim community has thanked people for their support after its mosque was damaged by a fire which has set back months of refurbishment work.

Sirajul Islam. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Sirajul Islam. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Firefighters were called to the mosque at the former King Edward VII pub site on Aylsham Road at around 1.40am on Monday, July 27 following reports of a fire.

Following the blaze, which primarily damaged an extension containing the mosque’s washing and toilet facilities, police have launched an arson investigation.

Sirajul Islam, inset right, the secretary of the Norwich Central Mosque and Islamic Community Trust, which is in the process of carrying out a £1m renovation of the site, said it was still too soon to know the extent of the damage caused by the blaze.

He said: “We are still in the early stages, the main building wasn’t affected but the extension where the toilet and washing facilities are have been.”

Mr Islam said he was shocked when he went to the mosque and saw the fire.

“I was really devastated, we have worked hard for the last three, four years to get this building up and running and people put their fortunes into it,” he said. “We’re still working on the building, we were just working on the car park this week, so it’s devastating.

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“Some people were in tears, it was shocking, we don’t see the point of why someone would do this. They did it out of ignorance, we’re not here to cause any problem to anybody this is our faith, we need to practice.”

Mr Islam said following the fire the mosque had been overwhelmed by the support of the wider community: “We want to thank everybody for their support - a lot of people have been coming around from the community to show their support and see us,” he said. Addressing whoever was responsible for the fire, he said: “Our message is to understand we are doing our practice and what we believe, we are not against anybody or harming anybody, we’re here to help the community.”

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich north said on Twitter: “This crime is very concerning. I’m thankful no one was hurt or killed. Norwich is a peaceful, tolerant city and I would encourage anyone with information to assist the police.”

Witnesses should contact Sgt Steve Harrowing at Norwich North Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 quoting crime reference 36/50641/20. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.