Daily Record – Petrol bomb attack damages Edinburgh Sikh temple [gurdwara]

Church of Scotland leader condemns the attack on the Edinburgh Gurdwara, insisting there’s no room for intolerance.

Jane Hamilton

Edinburgh – Lothian – Scotland, 28 August 2018. A Sikh temple [gurdwara] was badly damaged after vandals launched a “hateful” petrol bomb attack.

Police and fire-fighters raced to the The Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Leith after the alarm was raised by a member of the public early this morning.

The fire started with a lit bottle full of petrol being thrown at the doors of the temple.

It was quickly extinguished, but the building sustained extensive smoke damage and will remain closed until fire investigators declare it is safe for worshippers to return.

The temple, which has been opened since 1976, is also a meeting place for the capital’s Sikh community and has around 400 strong congregation.

A police source said: “It’s possible an accelerant was used.

“The doors to the temple are heavy and managed to hold the fire back well, but there is significant smoke damage inside.

“We don’t have a motive as yet and it could just be a random act of mindless vandalism.

“The Sikh temple [gurdwara] does a lot of work in the local community and this is very upsetting for them that someone has targeted their place of worship.”

Sirinder Simon Singh Swali broke the news on Facebook to fellow worshippers and appealed for any information.

He wrote: “We need this person caught.

“We regret to inform you that, Guru Nanak Gurdwara suffered an arson attack this morning at 5 am.

“Someone tried to burn down the front door. There’s a lot of internal smoke damage and access has been denied by police, until smoke clears and is safe to enter.

“Divan hall has major smoke damage. Investigations are ongoing, and forensic officers are on site. Please note access is not possible at this point.”

The Church of Scotland yesterday expressed their sympathy to Edinburgh’s Sikh community after the arson attack.

Right Reverend Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “How sad that a place of worship should be the target of such a hateful act.

“I am glad no one was injured and extend sympathy to the Sikh community in Edinburgh.

“We recognise the actions of a small minority do not reflect the good relations that exist with your local community. There is no room in Scotland for intolerance.”

One local businessman, who asked not to be named, said: “I have no idea why anyone would want to target the temple [gurdwara].

“Everyone likes the Sikh community in Leith and they get on with almost everyone in the local community. It’s an outrage.”

And a Police Scotland spokesman explained: “Police in Edinburgh were alerted to a fire at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Sheriff Brae at around 5.05 am.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended and extinguished the flames at the front door. Some of the building’s interior also sustained smoke damage.

“A joint investigation is currently underway to determine the full circumstances surrounding this incident.”

Volunteers from the temple feed hundreds of people a week at free food stations they have operated around Edinburgh since 2015.

The food is cooked at the temple, transferred to buffet trays and taken to the distribution points.

A separate mobile team travels around Leith Walk and elsewhere, taking food to people who are sleeping rough on the streets.

When they first started they were feeding 50 people a week but that has risen to hundreds using the service as demand for foodbanks continue to grow.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.


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