Met chief calls for calm after fire at Islamic boarding school in Chislehurst


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The Independent Online

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has made an impassioned plea for unity after a fire in an Islamic boarding school in south-east London three days after a fire at a community centre in Muswell Hill, north London.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe described the latest attack as symptomatic of "difficult times for London's communities". He added: "We should not allow the murder of Lee Rigby to come between Londoners. The unified response we have seen to his death across all communities will triumph over those who seek to divide us."

Sir Bernard said there would be 24-hour security in certain sites across London, including mosques, synagogues and Islamic centres.

The move came after two people were treated for smoke inhalation at the Darul Uloom school in Chislehurst after a fire broke out on Saturday night. Sayed Mahmood, a spokesman for the school, said the intruders were caught on security cameras. "We are part of the British community and are deeply saddened by the events," he said.

The school's principal Mustafa Musa said the fire was started in the teaching area but did not say whether those responsible broke into the building. Firefighters were called and the blaze was under control within an hour.

Darul Uloom, a £3,000-a-year, boys' boarding school, was established in 1988. Students wear salwar kameez and skull caps, typical of Pakistan, and study a mixture of the national curriculum and Islamic studies.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson described the fire as "shocking". He said on Twitter: "We will come down v hard on those set on endangering life. Police will do everything to bring culprits to justice."

On Wednesday, firefighters were called to al-Rahma Islamic Centre, a community centre mainly used by children, in Muswell Hill, in north London. The building caught fire in the early hours of the morning. Police said, the letters "EDL" were found sprayed on the side of the building.