Texas, 28 Rabi’ul Akhir 1436/18 February 2015 (MINA) – Police authorities in Houston, Texas, has announced the arrest of a suspect in the Islamic center’s arson last week, bringing a better sense of security to the Muslim community.
“We are happy that a person who would do such a violent crime is off the street. We are a little bit safer,” Ahsan Zahid, the son of the center’s imam, told Houston Chronicle.
Fire broke out at Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, Texas, last Friday at around 5 am, On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
According to the institute administration, no one was hurt although one of the three buildings at the center was totally damaged by fire. Police preliminary investigation showed that the fire appeared to be arson as accelerant, like gasoline, was found on the scene.
On Monday, police announced the arrest of Darryl Ferguson, a 56-year-old man, charging him with arson for a fire at the Islamic center. “It was an accident,” Ferguson said Monday night as Houston Fire Department (HFD) arson investigators led him away.
The arrest came after HFD arson officers identified Ferguson as a possible suspect during their investigation, knowing that he has been staying in the area.
Arson investigators were searching for him near the Islamic center Monday when he rolled up on his bicycle. “We asked if he wanted to talk to us in our office,” said Ruben Hernandez with HFD’s arson squad.
“Ferguson made an admission.”
According to police sources, Ferguson has an extensive criminal record with dozens of arrests in Texas, with charges ranging from burglary and criminal trespassing to drug possession, assault and prostitution.
Nevertheless, investigators refused to identify whether he will be charged for hate crime or no. “I can’t go into that detail,” Hernandez said.
The arson was not the only terrifying incident targeting Houston Muslim community after receiving hate messages welcoming the attack.
Fearing for the safety of Muslim children, the Islamic center officials decided to suspend classes for the children. “It’s our responsibility to make sure our children are safe,” Zahid said.
After Monday’s arrest, they said the classes would likely remain closed on Tuesday but could reopen the next day. “We’ll make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the children,” he said.
Amid negative comments, the center received outpouring messages of support from all sections of the society, including Christians and Jews. “We’re happy with the support we’ve gotten from all different communities,” he said.
“This is just so much more valuable to us than the material things we have lost.”
Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims, estimated between 6-8 million, have complained of discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities. A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A Gallup poll also found that the majority of US Muslims are patriot and loyal to their country and are optimistic about their future. (P/P011/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)