Police said they are attempting to determine the motives behind an apparent arson attack at an Islamic centre in Harlow, Essex.
Chief Inspector Ed Wells said:
– Chief Inspector Ed Wells
Detectives are investigating this concerning incident and there will be a significant police presence throughout the day to reassure all local residents as we seek to identify those responsible.
We are appalled at the criminal behaviour of the individuals who last night tried to set fire to this building.
They appear to have set fire to foam at one of the centre's doors which has damaged the wall, but thankfully not taken hold of the building.
One of the heads of an Essex mosque hit overnight by a suspected arson attempt says he believes it may be an anti-Muslim attack.
Zia Rehman, vice-chairman of the Harlow Islamic Centre, said:
– Zia Rehman
We have been working very hard within the local community, building bridges, and we were hoping we wouldn't have this kind of problem, but in the current climate there are elements within society that are not happy and there are issues.
There has been a spike in hate crimes against Muslims in recent months following the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks in south-east London in May.
Members of an Islamic centre which suffered a suspected overnight arson attempt said they are "very saddened" by the attack.
Police said the incident, at Harlow Islamic Centre in Paringdon Road, Harlow, Essex took place between 10.30pm and 4am.