Edinburgh community 'frightened' by fire attack on Sikh temple

28 August 2018, 17:06

Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Sikh Temple

The leader of a Sikh temple damaged in a "petrol bomb" attack in Edinburgh says the community has been stunned and frightened by the incident.

The doors to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Sheriff Brae were set alight around 5am on Tuesday.

No one was injured but there is said to be significant smoke damage inside the building.

The Gurdwara said a lit petrol canister was pushed through the front door of the building before the alarm was raised by a passer-by.

Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was "saddened" by the attack while other faith groups have offered support to the Sikh community.

Firefighters extinguished the fire at the front door and officers are now investigating along with police.

Kulbear Singh, president of the Edinburgh Sikh Gurdwara, said: "Scotland's Sikh community places an emphasis on contributing positively to society and prides itself as a vital part of a modern, multicultural Scotland.

"As such, hateful occurrences such as this are incredibly disheartening. The gurdwara is the place of sanctuary and learning. We come here every week with our family and children; it is frightening that someone would target us in this way."

Wege Singh, general secretary of the Edinburgh Sikh Gurdwara, added: "We are an active community in Edinburgh and provide free meals for the local community and educational services.

"We are appalled at this attack on a religious centre. We will not stop playing our part in this vibrant city and will work through interfaith to create an inclusive Scotland."

The Gurdwara is situated in a former church and has been used by the Sikh community for nearly 50 years.

It is the only Sikh centre in the Scottish capital, serving a community of over 500 people.

Mr Yousaf tweeted: "Saddened at the news that a Sikh temple in Edinburgh was petrol-bombed today.

"I know @policescotland will investigate thoroughly.

"Solidarity with my Sikh friends and Sikh Community across Scotland."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also tweeted, saying: "This is appalling. An attack on any individual or community because of their faith or race is an attack on all of us.

"The Sikh community are a wonderful and valued part of Scotland's diverse society. They have my support and solidarity."

Rt Rev 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."

The Gurdwara said local businesses having been reviewing CCTV and Police Scotland has appealed for any witnesses from the area.

Detective Inspector Clark Martin said: "Fortunately, the fire was extinguished relatively quickly and no one was injured, but nevertheless we are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness.

"Anyone who remembers seeing any suspicious activity around the temple, or in the Sheriff Brae area during the early hours of Tuesday morning should contact police immediately.

"In addition, anyone with any further information relevant to this investigation is also asked to come forward."

Inspector Andrew Johnson said: "At this time we do not know if this has been a random and reckless act, or a targeted attack on the temple.

"In addition to maintaining a continued dialogue with staff within the temple, and the wider Sikh community, we will have a high-visibility presence in the area while this investigation is conducted to engage with the public and offer reassurance.

"If you believe you know something that can assist with the ongoing inquiry into this incident then please speak to the officers on patrol, contact us via 101 or make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers."