Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 16:36 UK

Islamic charity fire 'deliberate'

Islamic Relief shop
The fire is estimated to have cost up to 80,000 worth of damage

The Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief has been badly damaged by a fire which police say was started deliberately.

Emergency services were called to the shop in Albert Drive, Pollokshields at about 0525 BST on Thursday.

Police are looking for two white males, aged between 18 and 25, in connection with the incident.

Representatives from Scotland's Muslim community have described the attack as "despicable" and have spoken of "the growing threat of Islamophobia".

One of the suspects was described as having a slim build. He was wearing a black hooded jacket with black and white checked lining, a red top and a red 'Ferrari' baseball cap.

This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief's humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia
Osama Saeed
Scottish-Islamic Foundation

The second suspect is described as having short dark brown hair. He was wearing a green top with a white collar.

Habib Malik, head of Islamic Relief Scotland, said the fire was "a huge blow for the local community".

He said: "Earlier this year, during the time of our Gaza Emergency Appeal we received a number of threats of this nature.

"We are an apolitical charity. We do not take sides in any conflict and simply act to help alleviate people's suffering.

"Unfortunately, due to the fact we have the word 'Islamic' in our name we are often an easy target for certain racist and Islamaphobic groups and individuals.

"This despicable incident, which could have easily cost lives, has rightly been condemned by the whole community and by people of all faiths and none."

The fire is estimated to have cost up to £80,000 worth of damage.

Local disgust

The charity said it needed a new shop front, and the floor and ceiling would have to be replaced.

A spokesman said the basement needed "completely gutted out" and "smoke and flame damage" had destroyed the stock.

Islamic Reliefe shop
The shop's content has been destroyed

Local MSP and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the deliberate fire would have "disgusted" local people.

Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said anyone who wanted to attack a "reputable aid agency" deserved "the opprobrium of everyone in society".

"This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief's humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia," he said.

"This appears to be a premeditated attack, perpetrated not by drunken antics at midnight, with the shop set callously alight at 5am.

"We should be thankful that no one in the attached residential buildings was harmed.

"Given that Islamic Relief has received many threats warning of this in the past, I hope the police will be treating this as a matter of the utmost seriousness."



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