Harlow Islamic Centre arson attack probed
Three people are being sought after an arson attack on an Islamic centre.
Essex Police were called to the Harlow Islamic Centre, in Paringdon Road, after reports of attempts to set fire to the centre overnight.
Officers said it appeared someone had sprayed insulation foam around the doors and windows and then set fire to it. The centre suffered limited damage.
Ch Insp Ed Wells, of Essex Police, said he was "appalled" at the incident and officers were studying CCTV footage.
Footage shows three figures at the site and police are hoping to release pictures later this week.
He added: "We have an excellent relationship with the leaders here. There will be a police presence throughout today and tonight and we will of course work tirelessly to identify those responsible."
Zia Rehman, the centre's vice-chairman, said: "We have been working very hard within the local community, building bridges, and we were hoping we wouldn't have this kind of problem.
"But in the current climate there are elements within society that are not happy and there are issues.
"It's unfortunate and we are very saddened."
Conservative MP for Harlow Robert Halfon said: "There are some people who live in the undergrowth and behave as vermin and they come out at night and do this kind of terrible thing.
"I have no other words to describe them but as scum of the earth. I believe they won't succeed. Why is that? Firstly because Harlow Islamic Centre is a very special place.
"It is a tolerant and beautiful place and at the heart of our community and I am very proud that it is here and I know they will go from strength to strength despite having to endure this latest outrage."
The centre was set up 18 years ago now serves about 2,000 Muslims, according to the centre's website.
Anyone with information has been urged to contact police.