Community offers support; political leaders condemn arson at Diyanet mosque

Local residents began to process what appears to be an intentional act of arson at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven Tuesday, banding together to offer solidarity, financial assistance, and stand behind the American tradition of religious freedom and tolerance.

“We stand in support and solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters whose mosque was destroyed by a senseless act of hatred,” officials with the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut said in a statement. “We call on all people to stand together to oppose hatred and violence against any group of people. The freedom to worship in a mosque, church, synagogue, or temple must be protected from fear, intimidation, and violent acts. All of us have a stake in this, no matter the faith tradition.”

The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut noted that a fundraising effort to help repair the damage has been set in motion at It began Monday evening at approximately 7:30 p.m.; by Tuesday morning, $46,403 had been donated.

Organizer Lisa Kinney-Bajwa, a residential fellow at Yale’s Timothy Dwight College, said she and her children were at the mosque Saturday to attend an Iftar service, where Muslims break their fast during Ramadan. Her husband, Yale Director of Muslim Life Omer Bajwa, has spoken there regularly, she said.

Kinney-Bajwa said she started the fundraiser as a way to help the “open, lovely community” of the mosque in a moment of need.

“I knew the community could use all the support they can get,” said Kinney-Bajwa. “I knew I could help in this way.”

Kinney-Bajwa said she hopes that the fundraising effort, in addition to providing financial assistance, demonstrates that local residents and people across the country support the congregation at the mosque.
The level of support thus far, she said, is “just remarkable.”

State politicians also offered their support to those that attend the mosque.

“We stand together with the Diyanet Mosque and the Muslim community in Connecticut. No one should ever feel unsafe in their place of worship,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in a statement.

“I stand in solidarity with CT’s Muslim community as new details emerge about a deliberately set fire at the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven. We condemn & denounce this act of violence toward a place of worship, especially during Ramadan,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also D-Conn., in a statement.

“Anti-Muslim attacks, driven by hate and fear, have no place in our society. No one should ever have to practice their faith in fear. We need to stand united with our Muslim brothers and sisters, local leaders, and state and city officials and speak out against these acts of violence,” said Attorney General William Tong.

Fire officials reported Sunday that a two-alarm blaze broke out at the mosque, with fire on the first floor extending to the second.

Frank Ricci, president of Fire Union Local 825, said on Twitter that firefighters had saved the place of worship with an “(a)ggressive, coordinated fire attack and salvage.”

Mosque President Haydar Elevli said Monday that local churches had offered the congregation a place to hold services after Sunday’s fire, but no decision had been made as to where they’ll gather to worship.

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