As Muslims throughout the world observe Ramadan—a time during which compassion, self-reflection and spiritual renewal are fostered—intolerance for their faith continues to manifest in unfortunate ways.
The Hartford Courant reports that a federal criminal investigation is underway after a two-alarm fire significantly damaged a mosque in New Haven, Conn., on Sunday.
“This was intentionally set,” New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said. “Any time there’s an event like this in a house of worship, anywhere in the United States, it triggers a response of both the ATF, the FBI and state and local authorities. That has happened.”
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, but Rick Fontana, director of New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security confirmed that there was “significant damage” on the first and second floors of the mosque where construction was underway. Additionally, officials confirmed that religious artifacts were recovered from the building, which is currently unusable.
“We are taking this very serious,” New Haven interim Police Chief Otoniel Reyes told FOX 61. “We are working with our federal and state partners to make sure that there is no underlying issue to the greater community and to the greater religious community.”
After visiting the mosque and witnessing the damage firsthand, Gov. Ned Lamont called “an attack like this especially hurtful and hateful when you attack an institution for what people believe,” and assured members of the mosque that they’ll soon resume worship “right here in this place.”
In the interim, places of worship within the area have offered space to mosque president Haydar Elevli and his congregation in order to continue to hold services.
A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the arson.