Antisemitic arson in London

Four people have been wounded during a London house fire on March 20, which is being investigated as a potential antisemitic hate crime.

UPDATE: The arsonist was charged on Sunday, March 24, but not with any religiously or racially motivated offences, and therefore, may not have been motivated by antisemitism as suggested in an initial investigation.

According to the Metropolitan Police, a 60-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson near the scene of the midday Hackney borough blaze. The man has reportedly made “a number of threatening comments, some of which were allegedly antisemitic,” reports The Jerusalem Post.

Tower Hamlets and Hackney police commander Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway said on Thursday that the police “take instances of antisemitism extremely seriously, and for this reason, we’re investigating the incident as a potential hate crime. Whilst the investigation will continue to explore the motivation for this offence, we believe at this stage that this was centred on a localised housing-related issue. We have no indication, at this very early stage, that the motivation was connected with any specific local or global events.”

Four people were wounded in the arson and were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect had also been taken to hospital with minor injuries. Eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters brought the fire under control.

Superintendent Conway assured the Jewish community of London that the police would endeavour to protect them ahead of Purim. “I know our Jewish communities are about to begin celebrations for Purim, and we have a robust policing plan in place, including increased patrols and enhanced police visibility, to ensure the festivities can be enjoyed safely and securely”, said Conway.

“Undoubtedly, this will be extremely concerning news for our Jewish communities in Hackney and beyond. My officers and I will engage with partners, including the Community Safety Trust (CST) and the Shomrim, to answer their questions and listen to their views.”


Photo credit: Las Olas Chabad