Fire outside Long Island mosque investigated as possible hate crime

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Police are investigating a fire at the Fatima Al-Zahra mosque in Ronkonkoma as a possible hate crime.

RONKONKOMA, Long Island (WABC) -- Police are investigating a fire at a Long Island mosque as a possible hate crime.

Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit and Arson Section detectives are investigating the incident, which happened at the Fatima Al-Zahra mosque on Lake Shore Road in Ronkonkoma around midnight Monday.

"I hear an explosion like there's no tomorrow, so very very loud," Ahmed Ibrahim said.

A crescent sign -- equivalent to the cross for Christians or the Star of David in the Jewish religion -- was firebombed outside the mosque with what Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said was similar to a Molotov cocktail.

"I turn around from the window and I found the crescent in a flame, a big flame," Ibrahim said.

Video shows two people, whom witnesses say were both men, walk up a hill from their vehicle in the dark and light the symbol on fire.

The sign was damaged, but the building itself was not affected.

"It is so sad," Ibrahim said. "It is so sad."

The Imam said the mosque opened three years ago in Ronkonkoma. The religious leaders put up the moon in April in celebration of Ramadan.

"As American Muslims, we are very proud of July 4th," said Hassan Ahmed, of the Suffolk County Anti-Bias Council. "To have a hate crime perpetrating on a mosque that stands for peace a place of worship, it should be unacceptable."

Harrison and District Attorney Ray Tierney are now investigating vandalism as a hate crime.

"I'm disgusted," Harrisons aid. "A hate crime toward the Muslim Islamic community is a hate crime against all Suffolk County residents, and this is something that everybody should be angry about."

Detectives are searching for any fingerprints around this statue and asking witnesses to come forward.

"Hopefully, he's caught," Ibrahim said. "Hopefully, he gets what he deserves. Hopefully, he explains why he did that."

No injuries were reported.

The investigation is active and ongoing.

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