WASHINGTON, DC — Last Friday, on the first day of Ramadan, a fire destroyed a mosque in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. On Monday, authorities arrested a man who they believe caused the fire in a hate-motivated attack. According to a report by the Riverfront Times, the suspect previously vandalized the same mosque as well as another one in Dearborn, Michigan. The following is a statement from Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry:
“Our hearts go out to congregants of the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau. No one should have to suffer the devastating loss of their house of worship—particularly just as the holy month of Ramadan begins. The American Muslim community in Cape Girardeau deserves not only support but also justice.
We commend law enforcement for apprehending the suspect and for including a hate crime enhancement in the charges. This tragedy is a textbook case for why we must take anti-Muslim hate crimes seriously. In 2005, when this same man threw rocks at a Dearborn mosque’s windows and poured a chemical on a wheelchair ramp, a police officer dismissed the crime as ‘just a drunk guy with a rock.’ The culprit would then go on to similarly vandalize the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau in 2009 and then set it on fire last Friday. These types of serial offenses often occur when law enforcement fails to hold perpetrators of hate crimes responsible for their actions.
Anti-Muslim hate is a dangerous and thriving threat that is being turbocharged by the pandemic. What happened in Cape Girardeau was preventable. This is why law enforcement must aggressively pursue all hate crimes and treat them as the deadly serious matter that they are.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.