FBI investigates fire, graffiti on mosque

June 13, 2012 at 11:32 AM
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DEARBORN, Mich., June 13 (UPI) -- The FBI was investigating a fire and graffiti at an event center associated with a Dearborn, Mich., mosque, officials said.

Dearborn Police Cpl. Mark Gorbe said a fire broke out Tuesday in a storage facility at the Dearborn Woods Community Center and graffiti was spray-painted on the facility, less than 20 feet from the American Muslim Center, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.

"That thing was going pretty darn good when we got there," Gorbe said. "It could have easily spread."

Simon Shaykhet, an FBI-Detroit spokesman, said the bureau was investigating to determine whether it was a hate crime.

"The FBI is investigating this matter," Shaykhet said in an e-mail Wednesday to the Free Press. "We are working together with our state and local law enforcement partners to determine exactly what occurred."

Local members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the FBI to investigate because the graffiti included a reference to "Arabs," said CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid, who said he believes the fire was deliberately 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, explaining that similar incidents targeting mosques had occurred nationwide.

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