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One year since suspicious fire, plans made to rebuild Joplin mosque in town

Joplin-interfaith-iftarBy Roger McKinney, The Joplin Globe

On the anniversary of the suspicious fire that destroyed the Islamic Society of Joplin Mosque, plans for rebuilding the mosque inside the city are coming into clearer focus.

Joplin Muslims were the hosts for an interfaith iftar meal Saturday at their temporary location at the Pavilions West Shopping Center, 32nd Street and McClelland Boulevard. Members of local Christian churches and the United Hebrew Congregation synagogue joined local Muslims for the meal, breaking the day's Ramadan fast.

Ramadan, which ends Wednesday night, is a Muslim holy month of fasting during daylight hours and prayer. Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, beginning Wednesday night.

It was during Ramadan last year, on Aug. 6, when local Muslims were shocked and saddened by the destruction of their mosque at 1302 S. Black Cat Road in a suspicious fire. The roof of the mosque had been damaged by a fire on July 4. A surveillance video of that incident shows a man throwing a flaming item onto the roof of the mosque and running away. ...

Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said destruction and vandalism at mosques and other houses of worship have continued in the year since the Joplin mosque was destroyed. He said the Joplin mosque fire was one of the incidents that caused CAIR to publish a community safety kit for mosques.

CAIR is a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

Hooper said those who spread hate should be isolated.

"The solution is for mainstream people of all faiths to stand together and marginalize those on the fringes who spread hate," he said.

INVESTIGATION

Michael Kaste, special agent in charge at the Kansas City FBI division, said he would rather be celebrating an arrest than marking an anniversary.

"I wish we were celebrating the capture of the person who did this," Kaste said by phone on Monday.

He said no suspect has been identified, but the investigation remains a high priority.

"These are very, very serious crimes," Kaste said. "They're in our top priority to investigate. It tears against the whole fabric of what our nation is founded on.

"It's not just a crime against a house of worship. It's against the community as a whole. One of the things we hold sacred as a nation is our freedom of religion."
The FBI and the ATF have offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the July 4 fire.

CAIR, on its own, has offered an additional $15,000 reward for an arrest in either incident. (Read the full article or watch the video)

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