Four teenagers have been arrested by London police for the firebombing of a Muslim school that needed 182 staff and pupils to be evacuated, while six Muslim extremists were sentenced for planning to bomb a right-wing rally in another town a year ago.
Saturday night’s suspected arson attack is the latest in a rising tide of anti-Muslim violence following last month’s killing of a British soldier by Islamic terrorists. An Islamic community centre in north London was torched last week and police are investigating links with right wing groups after the letters EDL – acronym for English Defence League – were scrawled on one of the walls.
The EDL, a far right group, has taken out marches in the aftermath of the May 22 murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in southeast London but its leader has denied the group had anything to do with the attack.
However, there are fears of copycat violence. Scotland Yard said it had arrested two 17-year-old boys and two 18-year-old men on suspicion of firebombing the Darul Uloom Islamic boarding school in Chislehurst in southeast London. Two people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and the institution was able to reopen on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, six Muslim men were sentenced to jail terms of up to 19-and-a-half years each on Monday for planning to bomb an EDL rally in central England last year. The plan failed only because the EDL rally finished earlier than expected and the would-be attackers turned up late.
The men all live in or near Birmingham city, in a region with a substantial population of people of Pakistani origin. They had planned to attack an EDL rally in the town of Dewsbury with an arsenal that included two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel and a partially-assembled pipe bomb.
The nail bomb was an 18-inch rocket stuffed with shrapnel and was to be powered by explosives taken from at least two large fireworks.