A MAN has been arrested following a fire at a mosque in Braintree.

The fire took place at the Al Falah Braintree Islamic Centre in Silks Way during the early hours of Sunday, January 8.

A spokesman for Essex Police confirmed a 21-year-old man from Braintree has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and has been released on bail until March 13, pending further enquiries.

Detectives are still investigating the incident and have launched a renewed appeal for information about another suspect.

During the incident two men allegedly tried to burn down the mosque after setting fire to a rubbish bag and throwing it onto the roof.

A door was also kicked in and bricks thrown at the centre.

Essex Police is treating the incident, on Sunday at 2.30am as a hate crime.

Al Falah secretary Sikander Sleemy said: “I think they had a drink or were drunk, just by the way they were walking and the fact that the pubs closed just before.

“They passed by and stumbled across to the mosque, or realised it was a mosque, and have had a bit of fun and tried to set fire to the mosque.

“I think the first boy tried to break in but couldn’t and they grabbed some rubbish and set it alight and threw it on the porch area on the roof and, because of the weight of the bag, it just burned and came straight through.

“It was burning when one of our taxi drivers was passing. He put the fire out with a bottle of water.

“We are just fortunate they were two drunk guys who didn’t know what they were doing and were being stupid.

“Had the bin bag not been as heavy it could have spread across the roof and we could have been looking at something worse.”

The incident comes more than three years after construction worker Geoffrey Ryan, 44, approached the centre armed with two knives and launched a smoke grenade inside, hours after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

He was jailed for nine months after admitting two charges of having a bladed object in a public place and one charge of affray.

Braintree Chief Inspector Craig Carrington described the latest incident as “rare”.

He said: “This is a concerning but rare incident and the impact it has had on the community cannot be underestimated.

“We are investigating the offence and are working with our partners to reassure the community at this time.”

James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, added: “This mindless attack on the local mosque is completely unacceptable."

Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Sgt Tom Bastendorff at Braintree Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.