ANTIOCH – Islamic community leaders are hoping a reward will help investigators track down the arsonist who set fire to one of East Contra Costa’s only mosques during the weekend.

As much as $10,000 will be given for information leading to the capture and conviction of the persons who started the Sunday morning fire that investigators say was intentionally set, Islamic Center of the East Bay and the Bay Area Council on American-Islamic Relations announced at a news conference Wednesday.

“We want to send out a message that these violent acts are unacceptable,” council Executive Director Safaa Ibrahim said.

The Islamic Center on West 18th Street was ravaged by a single-alarm fire at 12:30 a.m., causing an estimated $200,000 in damage. Investigators quickly concluded that four separate fires had been set in the mosque. Three burned out before doing any damage.

Shortly before the fire, neighbors recalled seeing suspicious people lingering around the mosque, which has been repeatedly vandalized. Beyond that, investigators reported no new developments in the case, Contra Costa fire Inspector Bob Davis said.

Meanwhile, the city of Antioch announced that it has agreed to allow Islamic Center members to hold services at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center downtown until they find a new facility or rebuild the ruined one.

Abdul Rahman, chairman of the East Bay Islamic Center Trustees, expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support from the public and the religious community. He also recognized the Antioch Police Department for its partnership and support in ensuring the safety of mosque members.


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