Interfaith Coalition urges pursuit of hate crimes
August 06, 2012


Islamic Society of Joplin's religious leader Imam Lahmuddin looks away from the devastation of his mosque. Members of the Joplin community including members of the United Hebrew Congregation that had established a close relationship with his mosque share in his grief. (Photo by Adele Thompson)

The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) today (Aug. 6, 2012) called for a comprehensive investigation of the suspicious fire that destroyed a mosque in Joplin, Missouri in the early morning hours of August 6 during the holy month of Ramadan. The Islamic Society of Joplin mosque was previously a target of arson, and the most recent attack took place just one day after an alleged white supremacist gunman killed six Sikhs and wounded three others, including a police officer, near Milwaukee.

An earlier fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque on July 4, 2012 was deemed to be arson. In 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into the torching of a sign at the mosque; neither of the arsons was ever solved.

ICOM Coordinator Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg issued the following statement on behalf of the ICOM coalition:

The destruction of the Joplin mosque, and the cold-blooded murder of American Sikhs at their house of worship, should be a wake-up call for all Americans. If the religious freedom of any American is under threat, then everyone’s religious liberty is as risk.

The United States draws its rich strength from the many faiths, religions, and ethnic groups that call the land of opportunity home and contribute to its betterment.

We urge relevant state and federal law enforcement officials to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the arson, and the destruction of the Joplin mosque, and to pursue hate crime charges if appropriate.

The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques was formed in 2010 and is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League to assist Muslim communities confronting biased opposition to the legal building, expansion or relocation of their mosques. It is comprised of prominent individuals and organizations from different faith traditions – Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Muslim and Jewish. Since its inception ICOM has conducted advocacy on behalf of five Muslim congregations, including the filing of three amicus briefs in state and federal courts.

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Editor's Note:

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For a previous article, "Tracing the use of fear in politics," go here.

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