Police probe blaze at controversial mosque

Police are investigating whether a fire at an Auckland mosque that has been at the centre of allegations of extremist Islamic teaching was deliberately lit.

Two fire trucks were called to the Avondale Islamic Centre on Blockhouse Bay Rd in West Auckland at 2.45am yesterday.

Fire Service northern communications manager Megan Ruru said the fire was bigger than first thought, and another four trucks were sent. Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Newman said the fire was in a storage area on the side of the main mosque.

A fire at a mosque early this morning is under investigation. The fire broke out at the Avondale Islamic Centre in Blockhouse Bay, West Auckland. The Fire Service was alerted to the blaze at 2:41am, said Megan Ruru, northern fire communications shift manager.

“The mosque itself was not damaged,” Mr Newman said.

He said the cause was still undetermined as investigations were in the early stages.

Fire investigator Michael McEnaney would not say if the fire was suspicious until he knew more. However police spokeswoman Mere Wilson said police had no evidence to suggest explosives or flammables were in the storage area affected by the fire.

Muhammad Nadeem, 42, who lives in a mosque-owned rental property at the back of the centre, said he called emergency services when he noticed flames coming out of the roof of a mosque building.

“I was really worried for my children and that the fire would spread to my home and the other houses around here.” Earlier this year, the centre’s former imam, Sheikh Abu Abdulla, was banned from the mosque after allegedly teaching an extreme form of the Islamic faith.

He denied the allegations.
Police probe blaze at controversial mosque