FBI investigating fire, anti-Arab graffiti near Dearborn mosque
8:14 AM, June 13, 2012
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
The FBI is investigating a fire and graffiti found Tuesday on an event center associated with a Dearborn mosque.
The fire broke out at about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday in a storage building at the Dearborn Woods Community Center, Dearborn Police Corporal Mark Gorbe said.
Someone had also spray-painted graffiti on the 20-by-20-foot building, which sits less than 20 feet from the American Muslim Center on Pelham at Outer Drive, Gorbe added.
“That thing was going pretty darn good when we got there,” he said. “It could have easily spread.”
FBI Detroit spokesman Simon Shaykhet today said the FBI is trying to determine whether the fire and graffiti constitute a hate crime.
Local members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the FBI to investigate because the graffiti included a reference to “Arabs,” said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, who believes the fire was intentionally set.
“If a bias motive is revealed in this case, the FBI should add its
resources to those of local law enforcement authorities to help bring
the perpetrators to justice,” said Walid. He said there have been a number of similar incidents targeting mosques nationwide.
“I think there’s a bigger issue we have to deal with in our country, in relation to anti-Muslim, anti-Arab disccusion that takes place,” Walid said today. “Islamaphobia, in my opinion has become somewhat of an accepted form of bigotry in our country. Even if it was children, they were influenced by that discussion.”