A weekend fire at a Connecticut mosque that was built by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is being investigated as arson, The Associated Press reported.
New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said Monday investigators found evidence showing the fire at the Diyanet mosque was intentionally set and that a criminal investigation involving state and federal authorities has begun.
Police and fire officials declined to disclose the nature of the evidence, saying they did not want to say anything that could hinder the investigation.
The fire, which occurred during the holy month of Ramadan, broke out at about 4 p.m. local time on Sunday, starting on the first floor of the mosque and spreading to the second.
One person was inside when flames broke out, but they escaped, Alston said. No one was hurt.
The front of the mosque was under construction, but some areas were still being used for worship.
Alston said fire officials were working with the mosque on Monday to help salvage religious artifacts. The building, he said, is currently unusable.
Mosque president Haydar Elevli said area churches have offered his congregation a place to hold services.
Democratic Governor Ned Lamont visited the mosque and said he finds “an attack like this especially hurtful and hateful when you attack an institution for what people believe.”
Lamont said the state would do everything it can to ensure that members of the mosque can return to worship “right here in this place.”
“I strongly condemn such provocative acts that will hurt all Muslims and disrupt world peace,” Ali Erbas, head of the Diyanet, said on Twitter.
Stating that such attacks on mosques constitute a “show of Islamophobia,” Erbas underlined that the latest attack on the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan deeply saddened Muslims as members of a religion of peace, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.