Florida mosque set on fire dur­ing Eid al-Adha

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Page Title -

A MOSQUE in the US state of Florida has been set ablaze by an ar­son­ist dur­ing the Mus­lim Eid al-Adha holiday, au­thor­i­ties said, with­out rul­ing out that it was a hate crime.

Fire crews ar­rived at the scene in the early hours of Mon­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing re­ports of flames com­ing out of the Is­lamic Cen­tre of Fort Pierce, lo­cated about 160km south­east of the city of Or­lando.

No in­juries were reported and the ex­tent of the dam­age was not im­me­di­ately clear.

Eid al-Adha, one of Is­lam’s holi­est fes­ti­vals, was be­ing cel­e­brated on Mon­day and also could have prompted the at­tack, Ma­jor David Thomp­son, of the St Lu­cie County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, said.

“We are not sure ex­actly whether this is a hate crime or just an ar­son, we do know that a crime has oc­curred and that it is ar­son,” he told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors were also con­sid­er­ing a con­nec­tion with the 15th an­niver­sary of the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on Sun­day, Thomp­son added.

At the news con­fer­ence, a spokesman for the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions in Florida said the blaze was an act of hate.

Mean­while, NY po­lice seek man who tried to set Mus­lim woman ablaze

New York - Po­lice were on the hunt on Tues­day for a man who set fire to a veiled Bri­tish woman’s cloth­ing in Man­hat­tan, as the Amer­i­can Mus­lim com­mu­nity faces grow­ing Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

The at­tack took place late on Satur­day in front of a lux­ury bou­tique on 5th Av­enue in Mid­town Man­hat­tan.

The 35-year-old Bri­tish woman said she was walk­ing when she sud­denly felt her shirt sleeve on fire.

Po­lice de­clined to pro­vide fur­ther details on the at­tack, say­ing only that they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a po­ten­tial hate crime. On Mon­day, the po­lice re­leased im­ages of the in­ci­dent caught by sur­veil­lance cam­eras and asked the pub­lic to help find the sus­pect.

The New York branch of the Coun­cil on Amer­i­canIs­lamic Re­la­tions, which is in touch with the vic­tim and is pro­vid­ing le­gal help, said it could not con­firm whether the sus­pect was mo­ti­vated by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment, though his vic­tim was wear­ing a hi­jab at the time. “It’s an­other (piece of) ev­i­dence that Mus­lims are in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble in this hos­tile po­lit­i­cal cli­mate,” said Zainab Chaudry, a CAIR spokes­woman.

“Even in places like New York City, one of the most di­verse in the US, we are see­ing a spike in anti-Mus­lim big­otry.”

In Au­gust, an imam and his as­sis­tant were shot to death on the street near their mosque in the borough of Queens. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into that in­ci­dent has not yet es­tab­lished that it was Is­lam­o­pho­bic.

Af­ter that at­tack, Mayor Bill de Bla­sio an­nounced that ad­di­tional po­lice of­fi­cers would be de­ployed to se­cure mosques and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

Au­thor­i­ties would not im­me­di­ately con­firm the iden­tity of Satur­day’s vic­tim. The New York Post said she was a den­tist from Glas­gow, Scotland. — AFP

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