An arson attack at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Edinburgh this morning has caused extensive damage.
At around 5am, a petrol canister with a piece of cloth was lit and pushed through the front door of the Gurdwara Sahib in Mill Lane. A fire started on the other side of the door, inside the Gurdwara Sahib.
While the fire damage is limited, it caused extensive internal smoke damage, including inside the Divan hall. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was not in Parkash (but in Sachkhand) at the time of the attack.
Shortly after attack, a passer-by who was familiar with Edinburgh sangat alerted the Granthi Singhs to the fire. Both the police and fire brigade arrived within minutes, along with members of Edinburgh sangat.
Local sevadaars were able to carry out a brief inspection before the police sealed off the Gurdwara Sahib for forensic analysis, but they could not determine much as it was still dark. In this time, a sevadaar rushed upstairs to Sachkhand to check Mahraaj’s Saroops which thankfully appear not to have suffered any damage. Galab Singh, a committee member of the Gurdwara Sahib said: ‘When I heard there was a fire I had to rush here and go upstairs to check Mahraaj’s saroops with my own eyes. I’m quite surprised at this attack, the Gurdwara Sahib enjoys a good relationship with the local community here.’
Police officers are now inspecting the Gurdwara Sahib, and have taken away the petrol canister for forensic examination. The Gurdwara Sahib is hoping to update sangat once the police have finished investigating.
Detective Inspector Clark Martin from Gayfield CID said: “Fortunately, the fire was extinguished relatively quickly and no on 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 from Leith Police Station said that police would be having a ‘high-visibility presence’ in the area while the investigation continues.
Despite some reports to the contrary, Police Scotland have confirmed that no arrests have yet been made.
The timing of the incident is of interest to the police: usually, arson attacks such as this come in the aftermath of domestic terror attacks, at a time of heightened backlash against minority communities. Moreover, the fact that the attack occurred in the early morning rather than late at night is a further indication of premeditation.
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.”
Members of Edinburgh sangat have received numerous messages and gestures of support, both from the local community and national Sikh sangat. Local businesses near the Gurdwara Sahib have offered their CCTV recordings to assist the investigation.
The Church of Scotland has issued a statement expressing sympathy and solidarity with the Sikh community. The Right 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.”
Sikh PA will bring further updates as they come from the Gurdwara Sahib and Police Scotland. Media enquiries about this attack should be directed to email@example.com