Mosque Arson in Indiana

From the Indianapolis Star online:

FBI agents and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating a fire early today at a Bloomington mosque.

Officials at the Islamic Center of Bloomington said a window was broken at the center and a liquid accelerant was poured through the window to start the fire. Damage was minor.

The Guardian had this:

Someone threw a rock through a window, then poured a flammable liquid into the building and ignited it, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said.

The timing of the fire, so soon after Thursday’s bombings in London that killed at least 49 people, was suspicious, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the council. Hooper said his group had been receiving hate e-mail and phone calls since Thursday.

This is not, of course, the first such event Indiana has seen in recent years. There was the much-reported case of the Evansville man who decided to ram his car into a mosque, among others. (There is a list of somewhat questionable attribution here, but I haven’t been able to find copies of the original news reports except on subscription sites.)

The question is, how do we respond? In 1998 and 1999, Benjamin Smith’s activities (and crimes) in Bloomington prompted public displays against this kind of hate. Since then, they have only managed to muster half-hearted efforts and letters to the editor. This is the kind of event that requires a response.

Nathan Ainslie, President of the Islamic Center of Bloomington, has said that the mosque will likely have an open house in the next two weeks. This, I think, is an excellent opportunity for an event.

In a related story, I may be covering this story for the fledgling Bloomington indie CultureWeek — so there may be more to come. (I also posted this material on my DailyKos Diary)