A “suspicious” fire broke out Friday afternoon at a Houston mosque hours after services ended. According to Houston’s CBS affiliate KHOU, the fire began Christmas day around 2:30 p.m. Nobody was injured in the fire and firefighters were able to put out the blaze relatively quickly. Smoke damaged both the mosque and the businesses that shared the strip mall with the worship center. “With God’s grace, no one was hurt and nothing happened,” owner of the strip mall, Imran Momin, told the Houston Chronicle. “It happened on Christmas, thank God. So God was looking out.”
An ATF spokesperson confirmed to KHOU that the fire was “suspicious because the fire had multiple points of origin.” The Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged authorities to consider bias as a potential motive. “Because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting mosques nationwide, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this fire,” Houston CAIR told NBC.
The Washington Post notes that if, in fact, arson is the cause of the mosque’s fire, that it would be the latest in an increasing number of hate crimes committed against Muslims. Vandalized mosques have been reported in Florida, California, and Georgia. A study released earlier this month indicates that crimes against Muslims and mosques in America have tripled since both the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.
Screenshot via NBC.