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Haverhill's Muslim community unsettled after fourth attack on mosque in three years



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Members of Haverhill’s Muslim community believe the fourth attack on its mosque in the space of three years was a hate crime.

Two-and-a-half years ago the mosque, based at Bevan House on the corner of Crowland Road and Camps Road, was seriously damaged by a fire deliberately started in one of the rooms used for prayer.

And in the early hours of Tuesday, Yacouba Ibrahim, the secretary of the Haverhill Muslim Community Association, arrived for early morning prayers at 4am to discover a wheelie bin had been set on fire and badly damaged.

Yacouba Ibrahim outside the Haverhill mosque. Picture by Mark Westley
Yacouba Ibrahim outside the Haverhill mosque. Picture by Mark Westley

Mr Ibrahim, who discovered the damaged bin, which had been placed in the car parking area ready for emptying later that morning, and said he was certain it was a ‘hate crime’, just as the previous arson was.

He said: “It was on private property. Someone obviously got on there and decided to set the bin on fire.

“We don’t think it’s an accident, we think it was deliberate.”

Damage caused by arsonists to a prayer room at the Haverhill mosque in November 2019. Picture by Mark Westley
Damage caused by arsonists to a prayer room at the Haverhill mosque in November 2019. Picture by Mark Westley

Aside from the two arson attacks, Mr Ibrahim said there had been two acts of vandalism at the mosque, which the association officially opened in March after buying it from Haverhill Town Council.

A fence had been deliberately pushed over in one incident and a window smashed in another.

The incidents, in particular the fire of 2019, in which a number of items, including Muslim books and prayer mats, were piled up in the middle of the ground floor prayer room and set alight, have left some mosque users unsettled.

One family had left Haverhill, said Mr Ibrahim, because they didn’t feel it was the ‘right environment in which to raise their children’, although he added that the decision was made due to some other factors, not just because of the damage caused to the mosque.

Police, including a forensics unit, at the building in Camps Road in 2019. Picture by Steve Barton
Police, including a forensics unit, at the building in Camps Road in 2019. Picture by Steve Barton

He added: “This was the fourth time but the main one is when it was set on fire. At the time when the incident happened, especially the women, they did feel threatened.

“They didn’t feel safe going to their place of worship.”

Anyone who witnessed or knows who is responsible for Tuesday morning's incident should contact Haverhill police quoting crime ref 37/29904/22 by calling 101, clicking here or emailing ashley.gorbutt1@suffolk.police.uk