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‘Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received’ People have raised over $800,000 (£638,000) in the space of a day for a Muslim community in Texas to help rebuild their mosque after the building was destroyed by a fire on Saturday.
The blaze was discovered at the Islamic Centre of Victoria at around 2:00am on Saturday by a clerk at a convenience store, who called the fire department. It took around four hours to extinguish the fire and no injuries were reported.
The mosque in Victoria was discovered on fire just hours after President Donald Trump announced a “travel ban” against citizens from seven Muslim majority countries and a 120-day halt to the US’s refugee program.
A fundraising campaign to help rebuild the mosque was set up on Sunday, and has almost hit its $850,000 (£680,000) goal. Nearly 18,000 people have helped to raise over $826,000 in the space of a day.
Omar Rachid, who created the GoFundMe campaign, wrote: “Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received. The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit.”
Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire, and Victoria fire marshal’s office has opened an investigation into the incident.
Shahid Hashmi, president of the Islamic Centre, told the Associated Press that the congregation’s Imam was awake in the early hours of the morning and checked the mosque’s online surveillance. He found no alarm active and that the doors to the mosque were unlocked.
The Imam drove to the mosque as the building had been broken into a week previously, resulting in the theft of electronic items, and he felt concerned. “By that time, fire engineers were already there pouring water on the fire,” Mr Hashmi said. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mr Hashmi said he hoped the act had not been a hate crime, but said the outpouring of support and donations had been “incredible”.
“We are very grateful,” he said. The mosque has been targeted prior to the burglary reported last week. In 2013, a man admitted painting “H8”, computer shorthand for “hate”, on the outside of the building, the Victoria Advocate reported.
Additional reporting by Associated Press