West London Muslim centre for women vandalised and firebombed
A Muslim educational centre for women and children in West London was vandalised and firebombed in an apparent Islamophobic hate crime.
The Al-Falah Institute in Hayes has set up a GoFundMe page to help rebuild the centre following last week's attack.
The centre was first vandalised on 26 September when intruders smashed the front door glass. Upon inspection, staff found the donation box forced open with some interior damage.
According to the organisation, they contacted police about the break-in but were told officers were too busy to respond.
At around 2am, the alarm company notified the fire brigade after the cameras went black, suspecting that the fire had been set off deliberately.
"Thankfully no-one was hurt, but this attack has caused great anxiety among the Muslim community and women that relied on the Centre for religious education, skills training and as a community space," it says on the GoFundMe page.
"The police were unable to provide timely support so the mindless criminals returned and set the beloved centre alight. At this time, we cannot rule out that this was not an Islamophobic or a hate crime.
"Worse still, there has been no mention of what happened in the local or national news or press. That is why we are appealing directly to our community and want this campaign to go viral."
The organisation said on its website that its usual classes will carry on as normal.
"We seek Allah SWT's help and aid in this difficult time and it is at such times your Al-Falah needs you more than ever – we request all the sisters to make special duas for Al-Falah and for donations."
A centre for women
The Al-Falah Institute is a non-profit educational centre established in 2010. Founded by Mrs. Mariam Tariq, the institute originated from her vision of providing Muslim women with a space for education and personal development.
The institute supports refugees through its Al-Falah Refugee Support, welfare and mediation sessions and promotes positive community relations.
"As an Institute, Al-Falah invited people of all backgrounds to sign up to English and maths classes and to participate in coffee mornings, to foster good community relations," says the GoFundMe page .
"It has served as a place for prayer, learning, and community gatherings for 12 years. Now, due to this senseless act, it lies in ruin, its contents in ashes (including religious texts) and the centre itself has been sealed off."
The page adds that funds are needed to repair and replace the lost contents not covered by insurance: "The women of the centre have vowed not to be deterred away, the community helped set up the centre and we are calling on the community to help rebuild it."
A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called to a premises on Yeading Lane, Hayes by the London Fire Bridge (LFB) at around 02:20hrs on Tuesday, 27 September after a fire was reported at the address. LFB dealt with the fire; there were no reported injuries.
"The fire is being treated as arson and a crime scene remains in place. Officers are aware that a burglary had taken place at the school on Monday, 26 September and are working to establish if there is any link between the two incidents.
"If anyone has any information about this incident please call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously quoting reference 603/27SEP23."