Skip to comments.CA: Fire destroys mosque - Hatred not ruled out
Posted on 06/04/2005 10:06:03 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
ADELANTO - An early Friday morning blaze that destroyed a mosque in a cemetery has prompted the FBI to investigate whether the fire was started by someone motivated by hate.
Laura Bosley, an FBI spokeswoman, said the agency has not determined whether the fire that leveled the mosque at the United Islamic Youth Organization and Cemetery is a hate crime.
She said an investigation into the blaze, which caused $225,000 in damage, is ongoing.
The cemetery's caretakers, Ali and Michelle Khawaja, are hesitant to label the incident a hate crime. Michelle Khawaja said she doesn't want to believe anyone in the community could be capable of something so cruel.
"It stood for community; it stood for brotherhood,' she said of the mosque. "I'm an American and a convert, and I would like to think that my American brothers and sisters believe in the rights of all people to freely worship.'
The 1,800-square-foot Muslim prayer hall was a place where people went to meditate and grieve over the loss of loved ones.
The modest white building with two minarets was more than just a gathering place for the Muslim faithful in this High Desert town; it was a symbol of Islam and its fundamental beliefs, Michelle Khawaja said.
The blaze reduced the simple structure to a pile of smoldering ash and rubble. Authorities have not concluded whether it was started intentionally, said San Bernardino County Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.
She said the fire was reported at 4:24 a.m. by a long-haul trucker who saw smoke as he drove north on Highway 395. When firefighters arrived about 20 minutes later, the walls of the mosque already were caving in, she said.
Fire investigators believe the blaze was started by an open flame such as a lighter because the building lacks power sources such as electricity, propane or gas.
"We can't say it's arson, but we haven't ruled that out yet,' Martinez said.
The FBI reported to the scene, as well as officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Sheriff's Department, Martinez said.
Bosley said the FBI always investigates suspicious fires that occur at places of worship.
She said there were no threats made to the mosque or its members.
"We haven't ruled out anything,' she said.
No other area of the cemetery was desecrated on Friday.
The 35-acre property, surrounded by miles of scrub brush and thin stands of Joshua trees, holds 500 graves, with space for another 2,000, said Ali Khawaja.
Michelle Khawaja said spiritual leader Shaikh Zaid Hussien Assfy bought the Adelanto property because of its inexpensive price and founded the United Islamic Youth Organization and Cemetery. Ali Khawaja said the cemetery was built in 1987 and the mosque was erected about three years later.
Some of the items lost in the fire are priceless, such as a black velvet cloth with the 99 names of Allah sewn on in gold, Michelle Khawaja said. Also lost were about 1,000 books, including copies of the Quran.
The fire is just the latest in a string of vandalisms at the property. Buildings were burglarized four times in the last two weeks, Michelle Khawaja said.
She believes the same people are responsible for the burglaries and the fire.
"Maybe someone lost a son or daughter in the Iraq war?' she said. "I sympathize with that person, but there are more constructive ways to express your grief.'
Michelle Khawaja said the building is insured and that the board of directors that oversees the grounds will rebuild the structure.
John Bridges, an assistant caretaker at the cemetery, said he doesn't know why anyone would travel to the desert in the middle of the night to light a mosque on fire.
"This church was not political,' he said. "It was where the dead are buried."
Salam Al-Marayati, director of The Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Muslim advocacy group, said he was briefed about the Adelanto fire by FBI officials early Friday.
Al-Marayati held a news conference in Los Angeles to talk about what he called an increase in acts of hostility against Muslims.
"Hatemongers are sending a message they're not tolerating any Muslim presence in America,' he said by phone. "We need to bring people together in solidarity (and say) Muslims are an integral part of America and we will be united against hate."
A burned copy of the Quran lies among the ashes of the mosque at the United Islamic Youth Organization Cemetery in Adelanto, which burned to the ground early Friday.
I'm still up in the air on this one. Hatered or common sense?
"Muslims are an integral part of America and we will be united against hate."
Yeah right, you lay down with camels you wake up with fleas.
No don't forget that MUSLIMS just blew up a Mosque in Iraq. Let's not be too hasty that it was a Muslim hater rather than a Muslim terrorist with a different motive.....
Actually, I think it was a love crime. Morons.
Thanks goodness Bill Clinton isn't still president. Or we'd get to hear him tell of how he remembers Mosques getting burned in Alabama during his youth.
no tears shed here. just beers and cheers.
My first thought as well: perhaps this fire was set by an Islamofascist...
Well, I can safely say that I won't be losing any sleep over this.
"Also lost were about 1,000 books, including copies of the Quran."
Oh dear, I sure hope the firefighters didn't "mishandle" the ashes.
Looks like the only hatemongers at present are the Muslims. Fire Dept repeatedly refused to declare this to be a case of arson, but instead repeatedly left the door open until investigation shall justly identify the cause of the fire. No hate towards the Islamic community from the publis officials.
Maybe it was caused by Muslim extremists seeking to justify other irrational hateful behavior they are premeditating.
I think the converts can tend to be more radicalized, and we already know that hate crimes can be faked be minority groups to gain sympathy too.
Act of God?
Maybe it was struck by a lightning bolt
I'm having thoughts of roasting hot dogs and marshmellows over that flame.
MSNBC had two authors/former govt. military/defense advisors on last night. They both said that a good thirty years ago, Al Qaeda was recruiting sleeper terrorists to live in the US, marry Christian women, and to eventually attack American cities. They're already here, waiting to blow up Miami or Detroit, LA or Boston, etc.. And the more we fight generic 'terrorists' without naming them as Muslims, (this ridiculous PC war), the greater the likelihood that more Americans will die needlessly. These Islamofascist fanatics have an agenda, and they're working like busy bees on Plan B or C. Both experts said they fully expect another attack on a US city with great loss of life.
Adelanto mosque fire investigated as possible arson or hate crime
The Associated Press
ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) - Investigators probing a fire that gutted the United Islamic Youth Organization mosque believe it was possibly an arson or hate crime, authorities said.
"We can't rule that out until we look at everything," said San Bernardino County Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez. She added that federal investigators had been called to the scene.
The fire occurred early Friday in this high desert city, which is the site of the only cemetery in Southern California built exclusively for Muslims.
The fire was considered suspicious because the 1,500-square-foot mosque did not have electricity or gas service, which ruled out those causes.
A truck driver reported the blaze about 4:24 a.m. Friday and firefighters arrived in 20 minutes to find the mosque in flames, Martinez said. Only two walls remained standing and Korans and prayer rugs were destroyed in the fire, said Seyed Mousavi, a mosque board member.
"The only thing we're afraid of is that someone who doesn't like Muslims found out this is the only Islamic cemetery in the U.S.," Mousavi said.
The mosque served as a spiritual center for visitors to the cemetery of 600 graves, which all face toward Mecca.
"The significance of that cemetery is great to Muslims in Southern California, and if this is arson, that's a big insult to our community," said Mustafa Kuko, director of the Islamic Center of Riverside. "The Muslim looks at the mosque as a home. They don't have all the clues yet, but it's like someone has burned down one of our homes."
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Southern California called for the FBI to investigate the blaze as a possible hate crime.
"We pray that the perpetrators, whatever their motive, are caught and brought to justice," said communications director Sabiha Khan.
Send them all back, its not worth the trouble to weed out the good from the bad when just a couple bad ones can create so much destruction in today's world. They bitch and complain yet know things as some did prior to 9/11 and said nothing to stop it or help us. Then they danced in the street as it happened.
What is the difference between a Muslim terrorist and a Muslim hater?
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