SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Investigators said Thursday they found evidence of a
break-in at a city mosque that was destroyed by fire.

Lt. Neil Hawley of the Springfield Fire Department would not disclose any
details of the break-in, and said arson investigators are still trying to
figure out what started the fire at the Al-Baqi Islamic Center on Wednesday”¦

Advocates with the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations
called on the federal government to investigate whether the fires in
Springfield and at another mosque in Glendale, Ariz., are the results of
hate crimes against Muslims.

“Given the recent pattern of incidents targeting Islamic institutions in
the United States, and the Muslim community’s concerns about the rising
tide of Islamophobic rhetoric in our society, I would respectfully request
that the Department of Justice assist in ruling out the possibility that
these most recent incidents were bias-motivated hate crimes,” Arsalan
Iftikhar, the group’s legal director, wrote in a letter sent to the U.S.
Department of Justice Civil Rights Division


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