Islamic Center Set Afire

April 13, 2007


Source: The Tampa Tribune

TOWN - 'N COUNTRY - Local, state and federal investigators sifted through the ashes of a deliberately set fire at the Islamic Education Center of Florida on Thursday morning and tried to allay fears the arson was a crime of hate. They couldn't say for sure, however.

Initial reports said there was an explosion, but responding firefighters said were unaware of any blast.

Area Muslims feared the torching of the building, which serves as a mosque and educational center for children, was a hate crime, the next progressive step from a burglary nine months ago in which the culprits set fire to several religious artifacts inside.

"It is a concern that this is a hate crime," said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, a Muslim advocacy group. Fueling the supposition was the fact that the FBI was at the scene collecting evidence.