Authorities in Florida say arson is to blame for a fire at a mosque early Friday morning, marking the third time in less than a year that a Tampa-area Islamic center has been set ablaze.
Corey Dierdorff, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue, told The Huffington Post that firefighters responded to an automatic fire alarm call at the Daarus Salaam Mosque, also known as the Islamic Society of New Tampa, shortly after 2 a.m. Friday.
Firefighters extinguished flames on the porch next to the mosque’s door. Radiant heat from that fire, Dierdorff said, caused the mosque’s interior fire sprinkler system to turn on, causing extensive water damage. There were also holes in the door’s shatterproof glass.
“Physical evidence led us to believe it was arson,” Dierdorff said of the fire
“It is worrisome that our community have fallen victim of what appears to be another hate crime,” Wilfredo Ruiz, spokesman for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.
“This time another Florida mosque has been targeted in a crime that could have easily taken the life of any worshiper,” he continued. “Our prayers are with the New Tampa Mosque community; and we are grateful that nobody was physically hurt.”
Mosque members were unable to pray inside the building Friday.
“The anti-Islamic threats targeting our Muslim community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Shakiel Humayun, one of the mosque’s parishioners, wrote in Facebook post
CAIR-Florida offered a $5,000 reward Friday for any information leading to an arrest in the attack. The group’s executive director, Hassan Shibly, also called on President Donald Trump to speak out against what Shibly called a “terrorist attack.”