TEXAS – In a heartwarming demonstration of solidarity, four churches and a synagogue have offered the use of their own houses of worship for the displaced members of a Texas mosque that was burnt down in Victoria in the US state of Texas, one week after the inauguration of President Trump.
“I grew up here, and I know how people are,” Mayor Paul Polasek was quoted by PTI news agency on Sunday, January 29.
“We take care of each other, and we are self-reliant. I’m very pleased by it, but not necessarily surprised.”
Flames engulfed the Victoria Islamic Center, destroying the building in the predawn hours Saturday.
The mosque, built in 2000, was the victim of a burglary on January 21 and in July 2013, a man admitted painting H8 — short hand for hate — on one of the mosque’s outside walls.
The Islamic center’s president, Shahid Hashmi, refused to speculate about whether it was arson, but said the building was burglarized a week ago.
The incident occurred within hours of President Donald Trump announcing a ban on citizens from seven Muslim majority countries entering the United States.
The incident was shocking to Muslim leaders in the US.
“Our beautiful Islamic Center in Texas is burning right now. May Allah have mercy on us, and give us better than what we lost,” Dr Muhammad Salah, from Huda TV, wrote of his Facebook page.
“We will update you with the latest news inshaallah. Please make duaa for our Muslim community there
Alhamdu Lillah no one is hurt because it happened at:2:00 am.”
“Two weeks after the Islamic Center of Lake Travis burned down, another Texas mosque was destroyed by a fire last night. The Islamic Center of Victoria was engulfed in flames around 3 am and an investigation is underway to determine the cause. No conclusions yet but I pray this isn’t a new trend,” Dr. Omar Suleiman, a renowned Muslim scholar from Texas, wrote on Facebook.
A GoFundMe campaign to rebuild the mosque has raised more than $447,000.
“Closer to home, at least four Victoria churches and a synagogue offered the use of their own houses of worship for the displaced members of the mosque,” it said.
One woman donated a handmade prayer rug.
“A guy who has a truck said, ‘I will come and haul dirt for you,’” said Abe Ajrami, a mosque member.
“When our peaceful norm is interrupted like this, I think it unites the community,” said Gary Branfman, a member of Temple B’nai Israel.
Leigh Ann Grant, whose grandfather founded Christ’s Kitchen, said when her father Allan Crouch was hired to build the now-destroyed mosque, she began to appreciate the value of respect.
“Dr. Hashmi was very kind and respectful to us,” she said in a written statement. “It was a beautiful building, too. It’s a shame it burned down.”