New Haven mosque fire being investigated as possible arson

New Haven
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In this photo provided by Lina Biroscak, a fire burns at a mosque, Sunday, May 12, 2019, in New Haven, Conn. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. (Lina Biroscak via AP)

A fire at a mosque in New Haven appears to have been intentionally set, according to board members at the Diyanet Mosque.  

The flames started on the first floor and rapidly spread upwards Sunday afternoon at the mosque on Middletown Avenue.  

Connecticut State Police and the State’s Fire Marshal were called in to investigate the fire due to the current cultural climate and recent hate crimes at houses of worship nationwide. Monday, arson reward signs were stapled to the entrance of the mosque and around Middletown Avenue. 

Tark Aouadi, the Executive Director for Connecticut’s Council on American-Islamic Relations said their civil liberties group is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.  Another $2,500 reward is also being offered for any information leading to an arrest.

“The Muslim community here in Connecticut are just like everyone else,” Aouadi said.  “They want to pray and be with their family and worship their God free from this hate.”

Connecticut’s chapter of CAIR says all places of worship in the state need to be on alert. 

“There needs to be a heightened awareness of who’s coming in and out of their houses of worship because you never know intentions and you don’t know hearts,” Aouadi added.  

Related Content: New Haven mosque fire under investigation

Governor Ned Lamont visited the mosque Monday and released the following statement:

“A hate-fueled attack on a religious institution – any religion – is disgusting and appalling. There is no place for it in our state or our nation. We will work with our local counterparts in New Haven to assist in the investigation and ensure those responsible are held accountable.” 

This is also the month of Ramadan. Worshipers said that makes this arson all the more difficult to cope with.  

Worshipers say it took five to six years to raise the money needed to build the mosque.  Construction on the building was not yet completed.

News 8 reached out to New Haven Fire Chief John Alston, but he refused to comment.

Web Extra: Listen to dispatch audio of the New Haven mosque fire below (audio courtesy of Broadcastify.com):

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