Party leaders have pledged to spend £1million on rebuilding an Islamic community centre destroyed in an apparent arson attack, to prove there is “no room for racism in Barnet”.
The Somalian Islamic Bravanese Welfare Centre, in Coppetts Road, Muswell Hill, was burnt down in the early hours of the morning last June.
Fire investigators found the letters ‘EDL’ – the initials of far-right anti-Islamist group the English Defence League – scrawled on the remains of the building.
Although police have said it was arson, they are yet to confirm whether there was a racist motivation behind the attack and no arrests have been made.
But this week, the ruling Conservative party on Barnet Borough Council, as well as the Labour group, each said they would invest £1million to help rebuild it if elected on May 22.
Tory leader Councillor Richard Cornelius said: “It appears this was a targeted attack and there’s no room for racism in Barnet. We want to get that message across.
“The police investigation continues, but it’s slow as they’re being very thorough. However for now it appears it was a direct attack on the Bravanese.”
The blaze destroyed 20 years’ worth of memories, work, materials and data and members were invited to hold meetings in East Finchley Library and the Finchley Reform Synagogue.
Three suitable locations for the new centre are currently being discussed, including its old headquarters in Coppetts Road.
It is unclear when the building would be complete, though work could start as early as the end of the year.
Cllr Barry Rawlings, deputy Labour leader in Barnet, said: “We’ve got to make a statement. If a centre is burnt down, we won’t allow that.
“We won’t be bullied, we won’t be fearful. We won’t let this how we work in Barnet.
“There’s been widespread support for this across the borough, and it’s important we support this.”
After the blaze, hundreds of people from all different faiths attended a vigil to show their support for the community centre.