Nov 2 2011
Well, they can’t say they weren’t warned.
Wichita Eagle A Muslim mosque in west Wichita that was heavily damaged by fire early Monday had received anti-Islam letters in recent months. Somebody also had begun turning on its outside water faucet overnight to hike its water bill, its leader said.
The mosque received about eight of the letters starting four to six months ago, but they had stopped about a month ago, he said. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Investigators are aware of the letters.
“We don’t know if any of the letters have any relationship to the fire at this point. It’s something we’re looking into though,” said Wichita fire Lt. Troy Thissen The fire spread quickly and gutted the attic, Bevis said. Damage was set at about $130,000. The fire may well have totaled the mosque, he said, because of the extensive damage to the attic and roof support structure.
Jibril said the anti-Islam letters appeared to have been sent by the same person because they contained the same types of pictures and same handwriting. Among the messages: “I don’t need to know anything else about you but 9/11”, Jibril said.
Abdelkarim Jibril, president of the Islamic Association of Mid Kansas at 3406 W. Taft, said the letters put down Islam, called the prophet Muhammad a pig, and enclosed drawings that mocked him. Enclosed pictures included drawings of prophet Muhammed with a beard, Jibril said. “We don’t allow pictures of the prophet,” he said.
Hussam Madi, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, who also delivered sermons at the mosque, said the fire was “ very, very sad” for the people who prayed there.
The mosque was the first to open in Wichita. Muslims bought the building, formerly a Mennonite community center, in 1979. Muslims had held prayer services in homes or other churches until then.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR – the Council on American/Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., said he will be monitoring the investigation to see whether it is deemed to be a hate crime.
“This is the kind of thing that happens all too often,” he said, “but it’s hard to predict.”