Islamic activists and state officials announced Friday that they are offering a $10,000 reward for any information about an arson that destroyed a Muslim family’s home.

Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said someone knows who started the blaze and spray-painted anti-Muslim slurs on the outside of Hasib Sejfovic’s home earlier this month.

Authorities are investigating the arson as a hate crime.

“We are offering up to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest of these cowards who carried out this attack,” Bedier said.

The blaze happened on July 6. A neighbor saw the flames and called authorities at about 9 p.m. The Sejfovic family was out of town on vacation and returned to find their home completely destroyed and spray-painted with anti-Muslim graffiti.

The Sejfovics moved from Bosnia in 2001.

Gov. Charlie Crist condemned the act in a written statement sent to Bedier’s office on Friday.

“I am sadden by any incident of hate targeting Floridians of the Muslim faith,” Crist wrote. “We will not tolerate such acts. We are an open society and one that takes great pleasure in our diverse communities of faith.”

Bedier asked why other elected officials and state legislators from this area have yet to speak out.

“(Crist) does not live in (Sarasota) County and he is condemning the people who did this,” Bedier said. “None of the elected officials who actually live in this community have said anything.”

Bedier’s group, along with the Coalition for Inclusion and Diversity, plans to hold a series of town hall meetings about hate crimes. Bedier said the meetings should start within the next two months.

Several agencies, including the FBI, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are investigating the fire.


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