By now you’re probably aware of the executive order signed last week by our new president. The order dictated the shutting of US borders to refugees and migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, on the grounds of “national security.”
No one knows yet exactly who started the fire, but there has been speculation of a hate crime at play. The Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic relations urged investigators to “keep the possibility of a bias motive for this fire in mind,” given the increasing amount of “anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation, and … the recent spike in hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions and individuals.”
Apparently, the fire started just hours after the executive order was signed.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time the Islamic Center of Victoria has been the target of such an attack. Several years ago, the mosque was the subject of a hate crime, and just last week it experienced a burglary.
Abe Ajrami, a member of the mosque and witness of the fire, said, “We are praying that it is an accident because the thought of actually somebody doing something terrible like that is beyond imagination.”
On Sunday, hundreds of people came together for a prayer rally outside of the ruined mosque to show their support for the Muslim community of Victoria.
Leaders from different religions were there to speak. M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, said: “Look at Victoria and learn the lesson … as to how people can come together as one human family.”
The mosque set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the damages, and in just a little more than a day, they met their goal of raising $850,000! And it was all thanks to the kindness of both friends and strangers all over the country and throughout the world.
People left heartfelt and encouraging messages for the mosque on the GoFundMe page. One donor commented, “I’m an atheist and I am deeply saddened and disgusted by what was done to you. Religious freedom and freedom from persecution are fundamental rights!”
Mosque officials wrote on the GoFundMe page that their hearts were filled with gratitude for the tremendous support they’d received. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit,” the message read.
Let this story be a reminder to you that there are still good people in the world!