Suspect charged with arson in mosque fire

Aug. 25, 2011 at 7:54 PM
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EUGENE, Ore., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday a Corvallis, Ore., man has been indicted on a hate crime charge for allegedly setting fire to a mosque.

Cody Crawford, 24, was charged with one count of damaging religious property and one count of arson by a federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., the Justice Department said in a news release.

The indictment accuses Crawford of setting fire to the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center Nov. 28, 2010, and alleges the crime was motivated by the race, color or ethnic characteristics of the members of the mosque.

"Burning a house of worship because of hatred toward members of one religion is not just an attack on that religion; it is an attack on our core American values," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Department's Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will aggressively protect the rights of all persons to worship without fear of violence or intimidation."

If convicted of the charges, Crawford would be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.

"The ability to live, work and worship freely, without fear or intimidation, is the very foundation of our society. We cannot allow any person to threaten the rights of those citizens we are sworn to protect," said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.

The case is still under investigation by the FBI in Oregon.

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