ADELANTO, Calif. - Local Muslims, national activists and law enforcement officials joined together Wednesday to call for the reconstruction of a mosque burned and then defaced in the Mojave Desert. Representatives from the United Islamic Youth Organization mosque, L.A.-based Muslim Public Affairs Council stood with members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, FBI agents and the Justice Department's Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms bureau and others to kick off a fundraising campaign to restore the mosque. "Today not only helped in raising awareness about the need to restore the mosque but in restoring the basic fabric of American pluralism," said council head Salam Al-Marayati. "Today the American government is embracing the American Muslim community."
Two Victorville teens have been charged for allegedly shooting shotguns at the gutted building weeks later but they were not held in connection with the fire. No one has been arrested in connection with the June 3 arson. "We're not going to be able to deal with hate crimes alone," Al-Marayati said, "but the government also cannot do it without our help." The campaign which seeks to raise about $100,000, will also rebuild a washroom for the cemetery, where the mosque is located. The 35-acre cemetery, which has about 500 graves, is the only burial site in Southern California dedicated entirely to Muslims.