The leaders of an Islamic centre destroyed in a suspected fire bomb attack offered an olive branch to the culprits in a gesture of peace of just hours after the blaze.
Sayed Bana, 60, a committee member at the Somali Bravanese Centre in Muswell Hill, invited the thugs behind the blaze to end their campaign of violence and come to the negotiating table as the cross community hub lay in ruins.
He said: “To the perpetrators of this attack I say, forget about what you are doing and come join us in a dialogue and let’s move forward to a future without violence. I’m not angry at those behind the attack, I feel sad for them.”
His call for calm came despite English Defence League supporters taking to social media sites to praise the apparent attack and call for further attacks on the Muslim community. One user wrote on the Yorkshire-Leeds EDL Division Facebook page: “Crying shame, if only it had been full.” Another added on the same page: “Next time do one at 3pm on a Friday afternoon.”
The vile comments came as the EDL leadership branded the savage attack an “insurance job”. A post on the group’s official twitter page said: “An earlier report of the mosque being in a bad state and needing lots of work #insurancejob.”
However Mr Bana appealed for calm among Muslims despite the inflammatory comments. He added: “If you try to make revenge then nothing good can come of this. We must stop this violence and hatred in order to build a future together regardless of religion or skin colour.”
He added: “The attack is very sad because the centre was one of the largest in the UK and benefited people from all sections of the community. We were offering an education to 500 children every week but I don’t know what they will do now – this has come at a terrible time just before the GCSE exams.”
The centre was being used to provide after school tuition to local GCSE students along with religious and language studies to children from the area.
Muswell Hill community leaders are reportedly joining forces on Saturday to host a peace march at the site aimed at voicing their disgust at the attack.
Local resident Khadisa Tarambi said: “This attack was completely unjust and very wrong. We hope to organise a peaceful gathering at the site on Saturday in an effort to calm tensions within the community.”
Her comments were echoed by local resident Fenette Archer who branded the fire “shocking.” She said: “The centre was used by everybody in the area not just the Muslim community and we are all shocked and appalled by this display of violence. It is sickening to everybody in the area.”
According to twitter, a vigil will be held at the centre at 6pm today.
The EDL have also been denying the report that their initials were found on the wall of the building. A photograph of the fire proves otherwise.