Muslim group offers reward for info on Ohio mosque arsonist

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 14:19 EDT
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A "person of interest" pictured in surveillance footage taken from a mosque in Toledo, Ohio, which was targeted by an arsonist on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012.
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The Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) said Tuesday that it would pay $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever set a fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio on Sunday night.

Authorities said Monday evening that the blaze was an act of arson, and released a photo taken from surveillance footage showing a “person of interest” in the case (pictured above). Cameras also caught a red vehicle in the parking lot. Police said nobody was inside the mosque when the fire started.

“There was some damage in the sanctuary, but the mosque is working to get things cleaned up and back in working order,” CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia A. Shearson told Raw Story. “The national office is offering a reward of $5,000 to help in possibly apprehending the person who might have done this. We’re looking for good Samaritans out there.”

Sunday’s attack is just the latest in a string of incidents targeting American Muslims around the country. A mosque in New York was firebombed in January, and two Muslim-owned businesses experienced similar attacks the same night. A mosque in Joplin, Missouri also caught fire twice this year, and was burned down completely in August. A Chicago-area Islamic school was targeted by an attacker with a homemade explosive that same month, and two days after the Chicago attack a Muslim family in Florida was jolted out of bed after an unknown person threw a Molotov cocktail at their home.

“We’re very concerned at what seems to be growing religious intolerance from certain people who don’t seem to understand… We’re loyal, patriotic and we care about our communities,” Sherson added. “There are still things like cross burnings going on. And though it’s hard to believe that’s still happening in the 21st century, unfortunately that’s where we are. People need to realize we’re all Americans here. An attack on any house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship.”

This video is from WNWOtv in Ohio, broadcast Oct. 1, 2012. Note: Audio cuts out at about 55 seconds.


Photo: Screenshot via WNWOtv. Image provided by law enforcement.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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