Toledo mosque hit by arson

TOLEDO, Ohio — Muslim worshippers are reeling from an arson fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, but are … Continued

TOLEDO, Ohio — Muslim worshippers are reeling from an arson fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, but are grateful for an outpouring of support from the local interfaith community.

“All the support we get is very welcome because if you are going through a tragedy and you have a friend who is holding your hand it means a lot,” said S. Zaheer Hasan, a spokesman for the United Muslim Association of Toledo.

Perrysburg Township police ruled that the Sunday evening (Sept. 30) fire was arson. Surveillance footage from the mosque shows a “person of interest” — a white middle-aged male wearing a camouflage sweatshirt and hat — at the mosque’s entrance shortly before the fire, which was reported about 5 p.m.

Mahjabeen Islam, president of the Islamic Center, said the suspect poured gasoline in the center of the main floor where men worship at the mosque. Women pray on the same main floor, but in an area separated by a low divider.

“It was set in the men’s prayer area and the sprinklers turned out the fire. There is a lot of water damage from the sprinklers,” Islam said. “The Islamic Center is uninhabitable for easily three months.”

The Rev. Steve Anthony, executive director of Toledo Area Ministries, said he and his organization that represents 125 Christian churches and nonprofit agencies are outraged by the arson attack and will do what they can to help local Muslims.

“Any attack on a house of worship, no matter what faith, is deplorable and should be condemned,” Anthony said. “And there’s no room for that in a pluralistic society. We should respect each other’s houses of worship.”

Islam said there is no information yet on a possible motive for the blaze.

“It’s difficult to draw a conclusion as to whether it’s connected to world events, or a simple case of Islamophobia, or if this is someone who is a pyromaniac,” she said. “Unless we find him and talk to him we don’t know.”

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which released a report on Sept. 18 showing a spike in anti-mosque attacks, announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.

(David Yonke is the editor of

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  • Ghost 2-5

    Can someone tell me why, once again, and act of terrorism in America by Christian extremists is not more prominently featured? Or, better yet, explain the refusal of so many to describe these actions, all across the country, as terrorism?

  • dcrswm

    When Christians do it, it’s not terrorism, nor is it terrorism when the culprit is a white guy. After all, America is a christain nation. -End sarcasm

    Real answer, if white christians are labeled as terrorist how would the ignorant xenophobes continue to preach about how immoral the Muslim faith is? They need the label of “Terrorism/Terrorist” to apply only to people that look different otherwise they may have to acknowledge that, end of the day, there is no real difference between christian zealots and muslim zealots.

  • Ghost 2-5

    I feel it’s a bit deeper than that, even, but I certainly agree. It’s a real basic issue before all that, perhaps even before there own religion that you touched on-

    Basically, a terrorist LOOKS a certain way, all of them are Muslims and therefore everyone who looks anything like that (or Sufi) cannot be trusted and is likely a terrorist. Simple. But if my sworn patriotic enemy looks anything like me- No! God wouldn’t let that/Christians are peaceful, etc. It complicates things for simple people. It really muddies up the “we’re right so you must be wrong” dialogue.

    Extremism is bad in all its forms and should be condemned unniversally.