Islamic centre in Houston 'arson attack' rises above hateful comments by 'turning other cheek'

The fire was not an accident, Houston Fire Department said

Lamiat Sabin
Monday 16 February 2015 13:18
Ahsan Zahid looks at the ruined building that housed computers and building materials
Ahsan Zahid looks at the ruined building that housed computers and building materials

An Islamic centre that had one of its buildings burned down in a suspected arson attack has hit back at hateful comments on Facebook with a dose of kindness.

One of three buildings at Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, Texas, was set alight at 5am on Friday.

It was not an accident that caused the $100,000 (£65,000) worth of damage, Houston Fire Department investigators said. Authorities said the incident could be deemed a hate crime.

As well as a flood of supportive messages and donations, some people believed that the centre deserved a few taunts and put-downs too.

The response was praised as being 'gracious'

On the centre’s Facebook page, one user going by the name Oso Osorio wrote: “I can donate some bacon sandwiches and a bible if you all want!”

But instead of showing any kind of hostility or anger, the imam’s 25-year-old son Ahsan Zahid replied: “We would gladly take your donation. Knowledge is something we can never have enough of.

“And we may feed the homeless in our area with the sandwiches. You are such a thoughtful human being!”

Despite comments like this one, the centre said others were supportive

His replies to comments that were laden with intolerance and hate were praised by others as being graceful and successful in “turning the other cheek.”

Another commentator gets a polite comeback from the Islamic centre

The fire incident, in which no one was hurt, happened days after three Muslims – newly-weds Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan – were shot dead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The two-day gap between the events has sparked theories that the suspected arson is the latest attack amid a wave of growing Islamophobia currently being experienced in the US.

A Houston Fire Department Arson Investigator inspects the scene

The building that was ruined in the blaze had stored computers and renovation materials that were hoped to be used to turn it into a family centre. It now stands charred and blackened with its roof having fallen in.

However, the centre is set to rebuild the destroyed unit with donations and words of encouragement received from people all around the world.

In a video posted today, Mr Zahid said: “I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of those hundreds and hundreds of people who have been so supportive of us through Facebook by posting beautiful comments of love, harmony, solidarity and support.”

“What we have lost in that building is just material things, but these words that you have given us are priceless and they give us the strength to move forward, to pick up the pieces and make something better,” he added.

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