Florida mosque set on fire during Eid al-Adha
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