Fire destroys Missouri mosque in second blaze at the Islamic center in 5 weeks; no injuries

The shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., is the day’s worst example of hateful violence — but it is not, sadly, the only one. Early Monday morning, someone set fire to the Islamic Society of Joplin during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. The mosque couldn’t be saved, so now there are 50 Muslim families in Joplin, Mo. — the same town devastated by a tornado last May — without a place to worship.

 

A mosque in southwest Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, and investigators spent the day combing through the wreckage searching for evidence of arson.

 

No injuries were reported, but the Islamic Society of Joplin’s building was a total loss after the blaze, first reported at about 3:30 a.m., the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said. As of late Monday, nobody had been arrested in connection with the fire.

 

While investigators did their work, a small group of Muslims gathered for an evening prayer on the lawn of the destroyed building.

 

“This is what we stand for,” said Dr. Ahmed Asadullah, a member of the Islamic Society of Joplin. “Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech.”

 

It was the second time this summer investigators had been called to the Islamic center, located in a former church on the outskirts of Joplin. A fire reported around the same time on July 4 has been determined to be arson, but no charges have been filed. The FBI has released a video of a suspect caught on surveillance video and offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in that fire.

 

Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the Kansas City office of the FBI, said the investigation into Monday’s fire was in the preliminary stages, and that about 30 people had been assigned to the investigation.

 

“Any act of violence to a house of worship is taken very seriously by law enforcement, and threatens the very core of the safety and security of our communities,” Kaste said. A Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization meanwhile called for more police protection at mosques and other houses of worship following the Joplin fire and a deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the mosque fire.

Mosque attacks common nationwide; imam takes incident in stride

JOPLIN, Mo. — One simply has to type the words “mosque fires” into a search engine to determine how common fires like the one Wednesday at the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque are.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have tracked dozens of fires, firebombings and incidents of vandalism at mosques around the country over the past five years.

A few examples:

• A mosque in Queens, N.Y., was firebombed in January with worshippers inside. There were no injuries.

• An arson attack on a Houston, Texas, mosque was reported in May 2011.

• Construction equipment was set afire at the site of a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in August 2010.

• An Oct. 31, 2011, arson fire at a mosque in Wichita, Kan., caused an estimated $120,000 in damage.

• Closer to Joplin, someone in April 2011 burned three copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and left a threatening letter near the entrance of the Islamic Center of Springfield mosque. The anonymous letter claimed that Muslims would “stain the earth” and that Islam wouldn’t survive.

The mosque had earlier been vandalized with graffiti.

An FBI agent last month said there have been positive developments in the Springfield case.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday called for state and federal agencies to investigate the Joplin mosque fire as a possible hate crime.

Suspects under Arrest Following Attach on Mosque

5 February 2011

Following an arson attack against a Turkish Islamic association in Kufstein three suspects, aged 15, 18, and 21, have been taken into custody. The three suspects were arrested only a few days after the attack of 16 January 2011, during which a fire was lit outside both entrance doors of the mosque.

The suspects admitted their guilt after having been arrested by police. They explained how they had fabricated a “kind of Molotov cocktail” which they then threw against the mosque. According to one source, one of the suspects admitted a racist motive for the attack, which was then corroborated by one of the other two suspects. The police are equally holding the three suspects responsible for recent neo-Nazi graffiti in Kufstein.

Islamic centre hit by arson attack

9 December 2010

An Islamic centre in Berlin was hit by an arson attack on Thursday, with an assailant hurling a petrol bomb against the building’s facade. It was the third such incident involving a Muslim building in the capital in a fortnight.
The assailant threw a bottle filled with flammable liquid against the front of the cultural centre belonging to the Iranian community of Berlin and Brandenburg on Ordensmeisterstraße in the Tempelhof district, police said.
Greens MP Volker Beck held Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer indirectly responsible for the attack. This autumn Merkel declared that “multiculturalism has failed utterly” and Seehofer railed against Muslim immigrants — remarks widely seen as intensifying an already divisive debate over integration and Islam in Germany. Last month, similar attacks were launched against the Al Nur and Sehitlik mosques, both in the Berlin district of Neukölln. No one has so far been arrested.

Sheep Hung at Site of Intended Dutch Mosque

A dead sheep was hung at the site of a new mosque in the Dutch city of Roosendaal, police reported Saturday. The animal had ‘no mosque’ written in green on the fleece. The sheep hung at the site of one of the largest planned mosques in the Netherlands, which has already seen incidents of arson and graffiti. The mosque’s chairman responded in anger to the deed, but notes that he does not suspect it was perpetrated by the mosque’s neighbours.

Warning over record number of anti-Semitic attacks in Britain

A record number of anti-Semitic attacks is “deeply troubling,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today. More than 924 reports of bigoted violence and abuse — 460 of which were in London — were received last year by the Jewish Community Security Trust. The charity, which monitors anti-Semitism in Britain, said the figures marked the worst year since records began in 1984. They included violent street attacks, arson, egg-throwing, racist graffiti, website hacking and hate mail.

Researchers said the surge was fuelled by the ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces last January. Almost a quarter of incidents (23 per cent) included some form of reference to the conflict. The fighting was marked by protests around the world, including ugly confrontations outside the Israeli Embassy in Kensington.

Largest mosque in Hamilton, Ontario firebombed

Shock and anger is spreading among Hamilton’s 20,000 Muslims after the city’s largest mosque was firebombed. The mosque includes the Islamic School of Hamilton which has about 200 students from kindergarten to Grade 8. Attackers had used a large rock to smash a hole in a front window at the mosque and then lobbed in what police are calling an “incendiary device.”

The Molotov cocktail did only minimal damage to the Stone Church Road East mosque, approximately $3,000 CAD. The Hamilton police hate crime unit and chief arson investigator Sgt. Tim Bower are leading the investigation. Premier Dalton McGuinty, Hamilton Mountain MP Chris Charlton and the Ottawa-based Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations were among those who condemned the attack. “Ontario’s diversity is our great strength,” McGuinty said. “So when a mosque or other place of worship is desecrated, it is an attack on all Ontarians.”

The same mosque was damaged in 2001 when vandals destroyed its front lobby by smashing windows with beer bottles in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Islamophobic attacks largely ignored in UK

According to editor of The Muslim News Ahmed Versi, Islamophobia in Britain is not given the necessary amount of attention. He claims that Islamophobic attacks in Britain will continue to rise until there is a wholesale change in attitudes, including new legislation against religious hatred.

“It will get worse unless something serious is done to curb this,” warned Versi, who has been reporting incidents of attacks and abuse against Muslims for more than 20 years and presented many papers at conferences on the issue. “Lack of legislation is the problem – we have only small number of cases of racism and anti-Semitism because they are protected by laws and are outlawed,” he said.

Recent incidents included arson attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions such as charities. Individuals have also been harassed or violated, students on campus for example, particularly veiled women, who had their head scarves or face veils removed by attackers. Verbal abuse labeled Muslims as “Osama bin Ladin” or “Terrorists” and extended to insults such as “You Paki go home”.

Despite the scale of attacks and abuse, there are very few reports on the issue by national media.

Libyan organization takes over Scandinavia’s largest mosque

Ownership of the largest mosque in Scandinavia – Islamic Center in Malmoe – has been taken over by the Libyan organization World Islamic Call Society.

The mosque was in heavy debt after an arson incident in 2003. The founder and chairman of the Islamic Center, Bejzat Becirov, says he could see no other options than to take the offer from the Libyan organization – which also contributed to Islamic Center when it was founded in the early 1980s.

Professor emeritus Jan Hjärpe believs this can be an attempt to counter Muammar Khaddafi’s bad reputation amongst many Muslims in the diaspora. Hjärpe doesn’t believe the change in ownership will effect mosque activities.

Muslim couple dies in arson attack in North England

A Muslim cleric and his wife have been killed in their own house in an arson attack, with two of their children injured, in Blackburn near Manchester. Abdullah Mohammed, 41, was killed in the fire in October. His wife, Ayesha, 39, died a week later. The 14-year old daughter is still hospitalized. Her 9-year old brother has been released and taken care of by extended family.

Two men have already been charged with murder and remanded in custody, while two more men have now been arrested on suspicion of murder. The police have not yet commented on the motive for the attack.