Media Contact

Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, 713.325.7010, media@aclutx.org

February 9, 2017

HOUSTON — Yesterday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives classified the Jan. 28 fire that caused $500,000 in damage to the only mosque in Victoria, Texas as arson. Investigators said the fire was “incendiary, or intentionally set” and “the evidence does not indicate the fire was a biased crime.”

The following statement may be attributed to Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:

“We're thankful that none of our fellow Texans were injured or killed — this time — in the Victoria Islamic Center fire. We don’t yet know who committed this crime or why, but whoever did it, or was inspired by it, or approved of it even privately, should know that every mosque wall stained with hateful graffiti will be repainted. Every shattered window will be replaced. And every mosque burnt to the ground, including this one, will be rebuilt.

But we’ve also been inspired by the loving and supportive response to this hateful act. The Victoria Islamic Center has offered neither rage nor blame, but forgiveness. Victoria’s churches and synagogues have opened their doors so their Muslim neighbors have a place to pray. And thousands of donors have raised over $1 million dollars to help them rebuild. At a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric is growing louder and more irresponsible by the day, it’s a welcome reminder that most of us believe that everyone has the right to worship as they please, free from fear and fire.”

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