Muslim civil rights group joins law enforcement in asking the public to help find the suspect
(AUSTIN, TX, 4/24/19) – The Austin office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Austin), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today asked local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to conduct a hate crime investigation of an apparent arson attempt on a mosque in North Austin, as well as any link to the previous string of vandalism targeting the same mosque and a Muslim-owned business in the same neighborhood.
The Austin Fire Department (AFD) is investigating the incident that took place early Tuesday morning. Two individuals present at the North Austin Muslim Community Center (NAMCC) reported the strong smell of gasoline and a review of security footage showed a person wearing a hooded sweatshirt pouring gasoline on the side of a building and attempting to ignite a fire.
CAIR-Austin joined law enforcement agencies in asking the public to help find the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Crimestoppers Tip Line at (512) 472-8477 (TIPS).
SEE: AFD Needs Help Finding Suspect Who Tried to Burn North Austin Muslim Community Center
The arson attempt at NAMCC comes only months after several acts of vandalism targeted NAMCC and a Muslim-owned business in the same neighborhood.
SEE: CAIR-Austin Calls for Stepped-Up Police Efforts After Third Act of Vandalism Targeting Texas Muslim Community
SEE: Vandal Targeting Muslim-Owned Business Strikes Again
Earlier today, AFD officials also held a press conference to discuss their investigation into the attempted arson as well as to release photos and videos of the person of interest.
CAIR-Austin is calling for stepped-up security and law enforcement support at Islamic institutions around Central Texas as a result of this arson attempt and related incidents around the country.
SEE: CAIR-San Diego Condemns Arson Attack on Escondido Mosque, Plans Interfaith Vigil
SEE: CAIR-Houston Urges Stepped Up Security for Texas Mosques Following Another Arson Attack
“While we are grateful that no person or property was damaged in this attempt, it is of deep concern to our community that events like these are becoming more frequent,” said CAIR-Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh. “People that seek to commit such acts are emboldened by increasingly mainstream anti-Muslim rhetoric. We issue the strongest possible condemnation of any act that seeks to harm and instill fear in vulnerable communities and urge law enforcement to step up efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
"The North Austin Muslim Community Center and the Greater Austin Muslim community are undeterred in the face of targeted attacks on our facility. As Muslims, we stand against all acts of violence, including those targeting people of faith and sacred spaces of refuge and worship," said North Austin Muslim Community Center Imam, Islam Mossaad. "We will continue to practice our faith, provide education, socialize, offer community services and build brides to better understanding within our community. This includes hosting a Ramadan Open House this Saturday, April 27 at 7 p.m. where people of all backgrounds and faiths are encouraged and welcome to attend."
CAIR asks mosques and other Islamic institutions to take measures outlined in its "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety" booklet. Advice offered in CAIR’s security publication is applicable to all institutions, regardless of organizational mission.
The booklet may be viewed at: https://tinyurl.com/BestSafetyPractices
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.