NEWARK, N.J. — Investigators and local Muslim leaders are discounting bias as a motive for the fire that destroyed a vacant building in Paterson that a prominent mosque planned to use as a community center. Although the July 24 fire remains under investigation, Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said he agrees with Muslim leaders that the blaze does not appear to have been an act of anti-Muslim hatred. The cause of the fire has not been determined, Avigliano said Tuesday. The Islamic Center of Passaic County bought the property, a former lighting factory, two years ago. Sohail Mohammed, the attorney for the Totowa-based American Muslim Union, said several factors indicate the blaze was not an anti-Muslim act. “Nobody in the area knew” that the Islamic Center owned the property and had planned a community center for the area, he said. “And there were no signs left at the site that this was an anti-Islamic act, no graffiti or vandalism like you would find at a site where a mosque was targeted.”

 

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