Update: Paterson Mosque No Longer Thought to be Act of Bias

August 2, 2005

Source: Newsday

Wire Service: AP


On August 2, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "Investigators and local Muslim leaders are discounting bias as a motive for the fire that destroyed a vacant building in Paterson that a prominent mosque planned to use as a community center. Although the July 24 fire remains under investigation, Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said he agrees with Muslim leaders that the blaze does not appear to have been an act of anti-Muslim hatred. The cause of the fire has not been determined, Avigliano said Tuesday... Sohail Mohammed, the attorney for the Totowa-based American Muslim Union, said several factors indicate the blaze was not an anti-Muslim act... 'There were no signs left at the site that this was an anti-Islamic act, no graffiti or vandalism like you would find at a site where a mosque was targeted.' Mohammed said it appears the building was deliberately set ablaze because it was vacant and there were no electric or natural gas utilities serving the building, which was secured by an 8-foot-tall fence and a locked gate. But Avigliano would not comment on what might have started the fire... The mosque bought the property for about $1.2 million in 2003. It was not covered by fire insurance because it had not determined if the structure would be converted or razed so a new building could be constructed, a mosque official said."