Members of the Somali Bravanese community have gathered together for the first time since their centre was destroyed by fire.

More than 800 people of all faiths met at the North London Business Park in Oakleigh Road South to show solidarity with the Somali community yesterday.

Pupils at the Ar-Rahma religious school, which was housed in the Somali Bravanese Community Centre,  Coppetts Road, had the chance to graduate and show what they had learnt in a performance for the crowd.

There were also speeches from local MPs, members of the multi-faith community and from Barnet Police Borough Commander Adrian Usher.

This was the first time the community had met since the arson attack which destroyed the centre in Muswell Hill last month.

Centre chairman Abubakar Ali said the day had been “fantastic” for the children and their families.

He said: “We’d had this event planned for a long time, but after the fire happened, people thought it would be impossible for it to go ahead.

“The children are happy because the impossible happened.”

He added he had been impressed by the number of people who had been at the event and by the support from police and politicians.

Mr Ali said: “The whole multi-faith community joined together to show solidarity with us.

“Despite what happened we’re moving on. We have made strong friends and we are standing shoulder to shoulder.”

People at the event said how impressed they were by the children, adding they had been impressed by how “melodiously and beautifully” the children had read the Koran.

One added: “It was a really moving and inspiring event for me and it will have big effect on me."