Worshippers at a Manchester mosque hit by arsonists say they were moved to tears after dozens turned out in solidarity at a vigil.
On the evening of Saturday 11 September dozens of people gathered for a vigil outside the mosque at the junction of Barlow Moor Road and Burton Road to send the message that the area would not be divided.A fire was started at one of the doors to Didsbury Mosque at around midnight on Friday night.It is being treated as a hate crime.
Two men who were passing threw their coats on the fire and tried their best to put it out.Two women living nearby rang the emergency services.
Hammed Khan president of Manchester central mosque said the quick actions of people nearby saved the mosque.
Fire crews arrived within minutes and extinguished the fire, which was prevented from spreading. No one was hurt.The attack has been condemned by council chiefs and police who say hate crime will not be tolerated.
Chair of trustees Fawzi Haffar said he was left 'wanting to cry' after more than 100 people gathered outside the mosque for the impromptu event organised by Greater Manchester Stand Up to Racism."It was very overwhelming," he said. "To have so many people here at such short notice was so heart-warming to see. When some of them were speaking I was very emotional and felt like I wanted to cry. It just shows there are so many good people out there. The person who did this was an evil person with a twisted idea. But they are the minority. Manchester is my city, and I am proud of it and today shows what this city is all about."There were speeches from anti-racism campaigners, local councillors. residents and mosque leaders before tea, biscuits and chocolate were offered around.Didsbury ward councillor Greg Stanton said: "I was shocked and upsetby what happened. "Because of the date and the anniversary we are marking today."And because this isn't the first time the mosque has been targeted in this way. That does not represent Didsbury."
He added: "I will be speaking to the local police and making clear that we wanted it treated extremely seriously as I have seen the damage and that is something that was planned beforehand."It was not something not planned in the spur of the moment."Scorch marks were visible on the door where the fire had burnt.GMP said no arrests had yet been made but that they had seized CCTV from the building and items from the scene as part of their enquiries and officers would be patrolling the area to offer reassurance.