Akram Al-Asadi couldn’t forget what a Catholic priest from New York said after offering tearful prayers inside the Islamic Education Center of Tampa’s charred remains.

“This is a house of God, like any church or synagogue,” Al-Asadi remembered the priest saying. “We should respect it. What happened to it should not happen to any house.”

Al-Asadi, 57, said he has been touched by the outpouring of sympathy and help since someone set fire April 12 to the mosque and teaching facility on Rockpointe Drive.

The retired pediatric surgeon from Carrollwood who serves as the center’s chairman said it likely will be another six weeks before the center can reopen.

The center has received about $20,000 to rebuild, which Al-Asadi estimated could cost at least $50,000.

Some have feared the blaze might be a hate crime. The April fire marked the fourth time in 18 months the center has been broken into or vandalized.


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