Police said on Saturday that a man living in a flat above the Shahjalal Mosque, which is part of an Islamic centre in Birkenhead, was treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries.
  
The mosque door was burnt and there was some smoke damage inside, a Merseyside police spokesman said. He declined to comment on reports that a petrol bomb was used. 

The attack comes two days after bombings in central London killed more than 50.

Mosque chairman Abdul Munim said: "What happened here was a dreadful act that could have been far worse had it not been for the fast actions of the police, fire and ambulance services." 
  
Police said they were hunting two white men in their early 20s seen in the area just before the incident.

US mosque incident

The mosque was sealed for a forensic search and police were trawling closed circuit television tapes.
  
"Merseyside Police takes very seriously any incidences of this nature, which are rare within the region," said Chief Superintendent Alan Jones. "This act is both senseless and very dangerous."

"What happened here was a dreadful act that could have been far worse had it not been for the fast actions of the police, fire and ambulance services"

Abdul Munim,
Shahjalal Mosque chairman

In a separate incident in the US, someone tried to set fire to a mosque in Bloomington, Indiana, in the early hours of Saturday.

A rock was thrown through a window, then a flammable liquid was poured into the building and ignited, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said.

A burned Quran was found outside the mosque.

FBI Special Agent, Wendy Osborne, said agents and members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating it as a hate crime.

Tension

British police have reported about 70 incidents against ethnic minorities since the Thursday bombings.

There were reports of suspicious fires at a mosque in the northern English town of Leeds and a Sikh temple in the southern town of Kent, and police said that tension around the country is increasing.

Tony Blair (L) says Britian can't
be entirely safe from terrorists

Other incidents ranged from two possible assaults to verbal abuse and threatening calls.

Two attacks on Muslims in the past 48 hours have been classified as "actual bodily harm", and the Muslim Council of Britain has received more than 30,000 hate messages via e-mail.

Police have also warned of bogus reports on the internet being circulated in a deliberate attempt to stoke communal tensions.

'Completely innocent'

So far there have been 50 confirmed fatalities in the bomb attacks on Tube trains and a bus in central London, but concerns remain for 25 missing people.

The extreme right-wing British National Party (BNP) has called the bombings an "Islamic terror attack" although no authentic claim of responsibility has been received by the authorities.

"Those who call for the Muslim community to take any responsibility whatsoever are mistaken. Did the Catholics take responsibility for the actions of the IRA?"

Masoud Shadjareh,
Islamic Human Rights Commission

The BNP said Islamic terrorists were swimming in the sea of Britain's illegal immigrants and thousands of them were plotting "to kill us all".

Masoud Shadjareh of Britain's Islamic Human Rights Commission told Aljazeera.net that he was not surprised by the attacks.

"We were expecting something like this because after the September 11 attacks in 2001 similar things happened. But this is completely unacceptable, because Muslims are completely innocent of what happened - it had nothing to do with us or our faith.

"Those who call for the Muslim community to take any responsibility whatsoever are mistaken. Did the Catholics take responsibility for the actions of the IRA?"

Blair criticised

On its website (http://www.ihrc.org) the commission advises Muslims to be vigilant at all times, not to open suspect packages and to report all harassment to the police.

Authorities say they do not know
who carried out the attacks

It says that women should try to travel in groups and to change their usual routes to work.

Shadjareh said that the police and the Home Office had been "very responsible" in their actions, but he had harsh words for Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"The prime minister said today that it was time to look at the causes of terrorism, ie extremist versions of Islam. This will be music to the ears of racists and Islamophobes because he is effectively associating Islam with terrorism.

"We also find it unacceptable that Blair has not come out to condemn the attacks against Muslims. If this amount of Christians had been attacked in the last 48 hours, there would have been no end of condemnation. Why is it that Muslims always have to be second-class citizens?"

Multi-faith community

He added: "It also needs to be said that Tony Blair has put his own citizens in the line of fire by his failed policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more generally in the war on terror. This is not being articulated at the moment by the British media, but it needs to be."

Earlier on Saturday, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said there were "very, very minor" indications of a backlash against British Muslims.

However, he stressed the importance of defending Britain's "multi-faith community" and voiced concern about some of the language used in the media.