Police: Person Detained Over Arson At Southern California Mosque

12 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Authorities: Fire at Southern California mosque was arson.

Flames were reported just after noon Friday at the Islamic Center of Palm Springs, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. A fire Friday at a mosque appears to have been intentionally set, authorities say, and has prompted condemnations and alarm in this Riverside County community and beyond.LOS ANGELES: Authorities were investigating a case of suspected arson after a blaze broke out at a California mosque on Friday, officials said, a week after a Muslim couple shot dead 14 people in the US state. Officials at the mosque could not immediately be reached for comment but they were quoted by local media as saying someone “fire-bombed” the building, and worshippers expressed concerns over the incident. By late Friday night, the Sheriff’s Department released a statement calling the blaze “an intentional act” and saying it would use all available resources to investigate.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, who visited the mosque Friday night, said he was alarmed that the mosque may have been targeted for religious reasons. “It’s horribly lamentable that we would paint any group as undesirables based on the actions of an extremely small number of radical folks that don’t represent the religion in any way,” he said. “If in fact it was done with the mosque as a target … it’s reprehensible, and the people who perpetrated that act should be treated the way we would any other terrorist.” The fire was reported at 12:09 p.m. He said the mosque had been “firebombed.” The mosque is about 75 miles from San Bernardino, where last week a couple who federal officials say were inspired by Islamist extremists killed 14 people. People there described hearing a “loud boom” and seeing flames, said Reymundo Nour, the mosque’s acting imam, who was not on the site at the time. The rampage has raised fears of a backlash against the Muslim community in the United States, especially in the wake of anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump. Some Muslims in Southern California and beyond have worried about the potential for reprisals, while leaders of various faiths have called for tolerance.

The mosque’s congregation is a diverse group, made up of people from several countries and economic backgrounds, said Alwishah, who added that worshipers had a “feeling of devastation” after the incident. Ojaala Ahmad, communications coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles, said the group has been in touch with FBI officials. CAIR’s offices in Santa Clara and Washington, D.C., were evacuated Thursday after each building received a threatening letter containing a powdery substance, Ahmad said. In this case, in Coachella, we don’t know the motive behind it yet,” Ahmad said. “It just comes to show how real ‘Islamaphobia’ is, how scary and how threatening it can become, and how dangerous Islamaphobia is to our nation and fellow Americans.” Esquivel reported from Coachella, Queally from Los Angeles.

County and city officials also condemned the attack, calling it an apparent case of arson, though none gave any details about how the fire might have been set.

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