Police stepping up patrols after blaze at mosque community centre

Police are stepping up patrols in Harehills to reassure residents after the outbreak of a fire which has destroyed a mosque's community centre.

Monday, 4th July 2016, 6:21 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:00 pm
Fire damage to the community centre Bilal Masjid Mosque.Picture by Simon Hulme

The fire, which damaged the Bilal mosque’s community centre on Friday night, is not being treated as suspicious by police.

But, in the wake of concerns from residents and in the build up to religious festival Eid this week, extra police patrols are to be carried out in the area.

“The good news is that it’s deemed not to be suspicious,” said Harehills ward councillor Salma Arif. “There won’t be any criminal investigation.

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“Police patrols have been stepped up ahead of Eid. That is just to reassure the community.

“It happened at the time when people were going to the mosque.

“With it being Ramadan, and with the community centre being so close to the mosque, people were naturally taken aback and a little bit scared.”

Emergency services were called to the Bilal mosque just before 8.45pm on Friday night as the fire took hold in the neighbouring community centre.

The incident happened just before the breaking of the Muslim Ramadan fast, and ahead of the evening’s ‘tarawee’ session (special Ramadan prayers).

Eye-witnesses said they saw smoke before a “big fire” broke out.

Firefighters from six fire engines called in to help battle the blaze as stunned community members watched from the street.

Mosque leaders told members the cause of the fire was still unknown, reassuring them that evening prayers would still go ahead.

There was concern locally as news spread, with community leaders trying to reassure residents.

MP Richard Burgon MP met with mosque leaders on Saturday. They are making moves to reassure residents, he said.

“They are asking that members of the community remain calm, which they are doing,” he said.

“The police have said they currently don’t believe the fire was started maliciously.

“The good news is that nobody was in the building and nobody was hurt.”