(PHOENIX, AZ, 12/8/04) – The Arizona office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) will hold a news conference today to
call for an FBI investigation of a fire that destroyed a Phoenix-area mosque. CAIR-AZ officials say the local Muslim community needs to be reassured that it is not being targeted by Islamophobic bigots.
WHAT: CAIR-AZ News Conference Calling for FBI Probe of Mosque Fire
WHEN: 1 p.m. (local time)
WHERE: Outside Al Sadiq Mosque, 6017 Glendale Avenue, Glendale, Arizona
CONTACT: CAIR-AZ, Deedra Abboud, 602-790-9319, E-Mail: email@example.com
Fire officials say the blaze broke out early Tuesday morning in the Al Sadiq Mosque in Glendale, Ariz. Two firefighters suffered burns when the mosque’s ceiling collapsed. Because the fire involved a house of worship, federal investigators have been notified. (Regular worshippers at the mosque include many Iraqi refugees.) After initially saying the fire was of “suspicious origins,” local investigators now say the cause is “undetermined.”
SEE: “2 Firefighters Escape Glendale Mosque Fire”
“We ask national law enforcement authorities to take over the investigation of this incident,” said CAIR-AZ Executive Director Deedra Abboud. “Without some kind of hard evidence one way or another, the local Islamic community will image the worst case scenario of an anti-Muslim hate crime.” Abboud also thanked firefighters for their efforts to save the mosque and expressed hope for the speedy recovery of those who were injured in the blaze.
Earlier this year in Tucson, a children’s health clinic with Muslim doctors received a bomb threat from a caller who said, “Muslims suck. I’m going to blow up your building.” In another incident, a Tucson Muslim’s car was vandalized with graffiti stating, “You are not welcome here. Go back home you stupid f****rs.”
In late November, CAIR called on the FBI to assist in the investigation of a fire at a Virginia gas station that may have been motivated by anti-Muslim or anti-Arab bias. Racist graffiti such as “F*** Arab go home” was left in the vicinity of the Sikh-owned station. (Since the 9/11 terror
attacks, a number of Sikh men who wear turbans have been targeted because they were mistaken for Muslims.)
Other incidents targeting American Islamic institutions have taken place recently nationwide. In Fargo, N.D., vandals smeared feces on a mosque. In the neighboring state of Minnesota, two Islamic centers were also vandalized.
In Texas, firebombs were thrown at an El Paso mosque. Also in Texas, a man was arrested for threatening an El Paso Islamic center, an arson suspect was arrested at the scene of a fire at a Muslim business in San Antonio and vandals scrawled racist graffiti on the interior of a Lubbock mosque. A home-made bomb exploded in the mailbox of a Houston Islamic center.
In Washington, D.C., a Muslim prayer area at American University was
vandalized. Earlier this year in Florida, vandals wrote “Kill all Muslims”
inside the Islamic Community Center in the Tampa suburb of Lutz. The FBI is
also investigating vandalism and threatening messages targeting the Islamic
Community of Southwest Florida in Charlotte Harbor. In Missouri, vandals
painted a Nazi swastika and the word “die” on an addition under
construction at the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. Three Miami
Islamic centers were vandalized.
As a response to post-9/11 anti-Muslim incidents, CAIR published a “Muslim
Community Safety Kit.” The safety kit may be obtained free of charge by
e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (Include name, address and phone number when
requesting the safety kit.)
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, is headquartered in
Washington, D.C., and has 29 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue,
protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions
that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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