Arson at a place of worship, as authorities say is the case at the Islamic Center of the East Bay mosque in Antioch, strongly suggests “hate crime,” which is why the crime is under federal investigation.

Most likely the perpetrator was attempting to show his or her disdain for Muslims. If it was also some sort of misguided effort to show love and support of the United States, it woefully missed the mark.

The burning of a place of worship is the antithesis of what America is about. It tramples on the history of the nation and is a slap in the face to the Founding Fathers.

People came here seeking freedom from religious persecution. It tramples on the First Amendment, which provides for the free exercise of religion, specifying none over another.

The Founders wanted to ensure that civil rights of none were abridged on account of religious belief.

The fire, which has left the building gutted and water damaged, will cause a scramble for a place of worship. This could create a particular hardship as the fire comes just a month before the beginning of a significant spiritual month on the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

The Antioch firebug’s disrespect of this property tramples on a guaranteed right of fellow Americans. What the arsonist has shown hate for is the United States, the Constitution and all for which it stands.

The mosque has been vandalized several times in the past few years. Those incidents too were probably motivated by misplaced hate and anger. But they were nothing more than annoying and perhaps a little costly and scary; they did not interfere with worship. Arson raises the stakes and increases the fear.

This kind of hate is dangerous. The arsonist must be arrested and charged.


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