A mosque in Texas burnt to a crisp on Saturday, January 28th. Local authorities have launched an investigation into the matter, but have found nothing so far that points to the source of the fire. The mosque was a target of hatred in the past. Furthermore, only last week somebody broke in and managed to steal hundreds of dollars’ worth of electronic equipment.
At around 2 a.m., authorities were informed about the fire at the Islamic Center of Victoria by a convenience store clerk who noticed the smoke and fire coming out of the building. The Islamic center’s president, Shahid Hashmi was also at the scene and watched powerlessly as the firefighters battled the flames.
After four hours, the fire was finally put down. Now, Tom Legler, Victoria Fire Marshal has requested help from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Texas Fire Marshal’s Office to identify the cause of the blaze. Unfortunately, because the investigation is still in the early stages, it is too early to speculate, say authorities. It might take several days before law enforcement officers could discover anything that would shed some light on the matter, said Shahid Hashmi.
The structure was raised in 2000 and, fortunately, nobody was inside at the time of the incident. According to the Islamic center’s president who has been living in Victoria for approximately 32 years, the congregation numbers 140 individuals who have been enjoying constant support over the years. In light of the recent events, Hashmi has already been offered temporary quarters for the congregation to worship.
The incident was made public on the Victoria Islamic Center Facebook page on Saturday, where some pictures can be seen displaying the level of damage. Shahid Hashmi says the congregation enjoyed an outpouring of support from the Victoria community.
“The outpouring support from our wonderful Victoria community and all over the nation have been phenomenal!”, read the Facebook post.
In the past, the mosque was a target of hatred on multiple occasions. In one instance, a man admitted to painting hate messages on the building’s outside walls. Last week, someone broke in and managed to steal multiple electronics, including several laptops, said Shahid Hashmi.
In the meantime, Mustafaa Carroll, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Houston urges authorities to keep an open mind about the incident, deeming it as another potentially hate-fueled attack on the congregation from bigots.
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