Police arrest 37-year-old suspect after viewing CCTV footage showing a man pouring petrol at mosque door and igniting fuel
A 37-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire at a mosque in Gloucester.
The fire service was called to the Masjid-e-Noor mosque in Ryecroft Street at around 12.50am on Tuesday after reports of a small fire.
Police attended and viewed CCTV footage, which showed a man pouring petrol around the door, then setting a rag on fire and using it to ignite the fuel. The man returned to a dark car, believed to be a BMW or Mercedes, and was driven away by a second offender.
The door suffered light fire damage and no one was injured.
The suspected arsonist was described as a white man, of medium or large build, who was wearing a white Puffa jacket with a hood and Adidas tracksuit trousers with white stripes.
Police said they are treating the incident as a hate crime in the wake of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London last month. Earlier this month a Muslim community centre in north London was destroyed in a fire. The Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim hate attacks, has recorded at least 11 attacks on mosques since Rigby’s murder.
The attack in Gloucester comes just three days after an open day was held at the mosque to welcome in the community and give people an insight into the Muslim way of life and worship.
Chief Inspector Richard Burge said: “Gloucester has a wonderfully diverse and welcoming community and I know people will be upset and angry about this.
“In recent weeks I’ve been buoyed by the fact we haven’t seen any of the tensions there have been elsewhere in the country.
“I know now the community will come together, help us with our inquiries and show that it utterly rejects acts like this.”
A statement issued on Tuesday by the Gloucester Muslim Welfare Association said: “We are deeply saddened to report that there was an arson attack at our mosque late last night.
“We want to reassure our worshippers and community members that the security at the mosque is being treated very seriously.”