Police confirmed they are treating the fire in Muswell Hill, north London, as supicious and promised a “vigorous and thorough investigation”.
They also revealed the letters ‘EDL’ – the initials of the English Defence League – were found scrawled on the outside of the Bravanese Centre, which was being used as a mosque. However, Tommy Robinson, the leader of the EDL, denied one of the group’s supporters was behind the blaze.
He said members have always been told not to attack mosques or places of worship and claimed there was a “nationwide campaign” to blacken the name of the group.
Chief Superintendent Adrian Usher, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “At this stage, we don’t want to rule anything out. We have several lines of inquiry and we will pursue those and until we can determine whether a crime has been committed.
“We will then pursue any offenders and bring them to justice.” Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said that if the fire is confirmed as an attack attack, it should be condemned as “cowardly, pathetic and utterly pointless”.
Local MP Theresa Villiers said it would be “not just an attack on the Muslim community (but) an attack on all of us and our values.”
“This looks very much like a hate crime,” she said. “We’re very proud in Barnet, the constituency I represent, of our diverse community and our cohesion, so I utterly condemn what looks to be a disgraceful attack.”