By Constance Renton
By Constance Renton
Toronto – In the early morning hours of January 28, firefighters were called to a fire at a mosque in Victoria, Texas.
Just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump signed his executive order, barring entry into the U.S. of anyone originating from a list of seven predominantly Muslim countries on Friday evening, the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria Texas was burned to the ground.
According to TIME magazine, the congregation’s Imam awakened in the early hours of the morning tocheck the center’s surveillance equipment and discovered that the alarm was off and the doors appeared to be unlocked. Getting into his car to investigate, he was met at the center by firetrucks and a prayer home which was completely engulfed in flames.
An Exxon gas station employee had earlier witnessed the flames and dialed 911 around 2 a.m.
The Associated Press (AP) has reported that the Victoria Fire Marshall, Tom Legler,requested assistance from the State Fire Marshall’s office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE). The Islamic Center’s director, Shahid Hashmi, has not yet been provided with any information as to the cause of the blaze. “We don’t have any lead or information as to what started the fire and what happened. So, I’m sure it’s going to be a few days, they told us, before they can come up with any answers for us.”
This is the second time in three weeks that a Texas mosque has been burned. The Victoria Islamic Center was the victim of a burglary just last week.
Watching the destruction of his community’s prayer home, AP quoted Hashmi as saying, “It’s sad to stand there and watch it collapse down. It looks completely destroyed.”
According to TIME magazine, the center was constructed in 2000 and served a congregation numbering approximately 140 worshippers, who arrived Sunday morning for pre-dawn prayers only to find themselves without a point of worship.
TIME also has reported that Hashmi has already received several offers of temporary worship sites until the centre can be rebuilt. The donation collection process has already begun.