(NEW YORK, N.Y., 5/11/2017) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Fire Investigation Unit to step-up its investigation of a “suspicious” fire that damaged a building owned by the Lackawanna Islamic Mosque of Lackawanna, N.Y., injuring seven.
Authorities, who have confirmed an accelerant was used in the April 22 fire, have yet to classify the blaze as arson. The incident was the second “suspicious” fire set at the building in April alone.
The four-unit housing block was occupied by several families, many of whom were newly arrived immigrants. Three victims remain hospitalized, including a 3-year-old boy. Friends, family and community members are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of possible arsonist(s).
CAIR-NY has reached out to mosque officials and other local Muslim community leaders about the incident.
“It is critical that authorities use every resource available to apprehend and prosecute anyone responsible for this tragedy,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director, Afaf Nasher. “Our prayers are with those injured in the fire and with their loved ones.”
“We can’t ignore the fact that this tragedy comes in the wake of attacks on American Muslims, immigrants and other minority groups across America,” said Albert Cahn, CAIR-NY Legal Director. “It is unacceptable that today, nearly three weeks later, that county officials have still not made an arson determination or contacted mosque officials.”
The fire follows a surge in anti-Muslim incidents across the United States.
In CAIR’s recently released 2017 Civil Rights Report, “The Empowerment of Hate,” the civil rights group noted a nationwide spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes, which rose more than 580 percent from 2014-2016. Additionally, attacks on Muslim-owned property, including vandalism and arson, increased nearly eight-fold from 2014-2016. The situation is even more extreme in New York State, where anti-Muslim hate incidents increased more than 560 percent in just 2016.
Muslim community members are asked to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR-NY at (646) 665-7599, or by filing a report at: http://www.cair-ny.org/incident-report/
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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