North Austin Mosque Targeted Again
Attempted arson latest in vandalisms attacking North Austin Muslim Community Center
A North Austin mosque vandalized last year was again targeted last week, as an arsonist attempted to set the building on fire Tuesday, April 23. Security footage shows a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt spraying fuel at the North Austin Muslim Community Center on North Lamar and trying to light the liquid. Two visitors inside the center reported a pungent gasoline odor during the incident. The roughly 6-foot-tall suspect has a white or light complexion and is around 160 pounds. He was wearing a blue Nike hoodie, blue jeans, and dark Nike tennis shoes, according to the Austin Fire Department. Those with information are urged to contact the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 512/472-8477 (TIPS).
The center, one of the largest mosques in Central Texas, was vandalized on three different occasions in 2018, including tire slashings and broken glass doors and windows. "We are concerned about the repeated acts of vandalism at the North Austin Muslim Community Center. When a place of worship is the target of an attack, the entire community is affected," said Renee Lafair, regional director of Anti-Defamation League Austin and member of the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force.
"While we are grateful that no person or property was damaged in this attempt, it is of deep concern to our community that events like these are becoming more frequent," said Council on American-Islamic Relations Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh. "People that seek to commit such acts are emboldened by increasingly mainstream anti-Muslim rhetoric. We issue the strongest possible condemnation of any act that seeks to harm and instill fear in vulnerable communities and urge law enforcement to step up efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice."
Islam Mossaad, the imam of the mosque, said his center and the greater Austin Muslim community stands "undeterred in the face of targeted attacks" on his facility. "We will continue to practice our faith, provide education, socialize, offer community services, and build bridges to better understanding within our community," said Mossaad.