A mosque in Texas was completely destroyed by fire within hours of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he signed an executive order restricting immigration of migrants from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia.
The Islamic Center of Victoria was consumed in flames at around 2 a.m. on Saturday when firefighters arrived. A worker at a shop just across the street noticed flames flickering inside and called the fire department. However, by the time they arrived, the mosque was already consumed by the flames.
At this time, it is too early to speculate as to the cause of the blaze, according to Fire Marshal Tom Legler, as reported by Metro. However, Legler has contacted the Texas Fire Marshal’s office and the Federal Bureau of of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, to investigate further.
Shahid Hasmi, the president of the Islamic center, was saddened to see the beautiful building go up in flames.
“It’s sad to stand there and watch it collapse down, and the fire was so huge. It looks completely destroyed.”
— Artillería Roja (@Arti_Roja) January 29, 2017
At this time, there are no leads as to what might have caused the fire. However, the proximity to the executive order on immigration that was signed by President Trump causes suspicion among authorities.
The congregation’s imam reviewed the mosque’s surveillance and found nothing out of the ordinary leading up to the fire.
The congregation of around 140 members has experienced trouble in the past, such as graffiti messages of hatred on their walls, as well as attempted robberies of the building.
However, despite the instances of hatred against the mosque, the city of Victoria has gone out of their way to be supportive. At this time, they are offering temporary locations to congregate and hold services.
Mustaffaa Carroll, the Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Houston Executive Director, hopes investigators will look at all potential causes of the fire, including a bias of bigotry against the Muslim people, according to Time.
“Because of growing anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation, and because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions and individuals, we urge investigators to keep the possibility of a bias motive for this fire in mind.”
Authorities expect to conduct the investigation just as they would any other of its kind, exploring avenues of arson and accidental causation.
— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) January 29, 2017
Despite the proximity of the mosque fire and the signing of the executive order on immigration, it is important to note that this case has not been solved and there is no current evidence that this was a hate crime.
If it is revealed to be an act of bigotry toward the Muslim people, it should be noted that the individual(s) that may be responsible are most likely taking advantage of the current state of politics as a means of using instances such as the executive order to their advantage. The fire was not caused by President Donald Trump, nor did he initiate a command to inflict such horrific damage to a holy structure. Instead, if found to be arson, it was caused by those that wish to use his actions to perpetuate their own hatred.
In the media, the most horrific stories are almost always those that garner the biggest audience. Rather than use an instance such as this as a means of perpetuating the hatred that might be conjured, becoming unified is a better solution.
Turbulent times are upon the United States as the transition of presidential power moves forth. Many are protesting and demonstrating against ideals and policies for which they do not agree. Instead of conducting acts of violence, hatred, and other nefarious deeds, now is the time to educate ourselves on the American ideals that we are not familiar with, to embrace the differences, and show support of those that are within the minority base.
The city of Victoria has embraced those ideals by offering the congregation of the mosque a place to worship during the hardest of times. As a country, we should do the same.
[Featured Image by Puttiporn/Shutterstock]