A fire destroyed a Brooklyn mosque and deli in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in New York City on Saturday early morning.
There were worshippers inside the Brooklyn Broadway Jame Masjid and Islamic Center when the fire began around 6 a.m., but everyone rushed out of the building without any serious injuries. The mosque’s furniture, books and copies of the Qu’ran were destroyed in the fire.
The New York Fire Department is currently investigating the cause of the fire incident. The New York Police Department said in an email that, at this time, there are no signs or reason to believe the fire was intentionally started as part of a hate-motivated crime.
The Brooklyn Broadway Islamic Center is the fifth mosque to have burned down since the start of the new year. The other four mosques, all ruled as arson, include Washington state’s Islamic Center of Eastside, Florida’s Darus Salaam Mosque and Texas’s Islamic Center of Victoria and Islamic Center of Lake Austin.
However, Afaf Nasher, the executive director of New York’s Council of American Islamic Relations chapter, said in an email that the Brooklyn mosque does not fit the pattern of over 35 anti-mosque incidents since Jan. 1, 2017. According to Nasher, the fire on Saturday began at the deli on the street level and incidentally impacted the mosque upstairs.
“So while there have been mosque vandalism and arsons in different parts of the country, this incident, according to my knowledge, does not fit the pattern,” Nasher said.
The fire damage to the mosque left worshippers devastated. According to CBS New York, the Brooklyn Broadway Islamic Center was established in 2004 and has about 250 recurring worshippers who are now struggling to find a new mosque to pray and congregate at during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
“It’s like we’re helpless,” Smuglz Hussein, the mosque’s president, told CBS New York. “We are in the street now.”
“It’s horrible, it’s horrible,” Hussein added. “It’s a disaster, I don’t know. We’re like almost crying. People are asking, ‘Where are you going to pray?’ So I said, ‘I don’t know.'”
A newly started crowdfunding campaign may allow them to observe the month-long fast at their beloved mosque in time, or at least provide them with the funds to rent a temporary space. Khalid Latif, an imam at New York University’s islamic Center, created a crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood to raise $50,000 to rebuild the mosque. The campaign raised more than $29,000 within the first 10 hours of the its launch.