A mosque in New Haven, Connecticut, has been severely damaged after a fire ripped through the structure. Initial investigations suggest the fire was begun as a deliberate act of arson. Federal, state and local authorities launched an investigation into Sunday’s blaze that left two floors of New Haven's Diyanet Mosque damaged.
In a statement on Tuesday, May 14th, New Haven’s mayor said it would appear that an incendiary device or material was used to ignite the blaze. Mayor Toni Harp added that should it be proven that the fire was the result of arson, the city would mobilse all available resources to find those responsible. She declined to state what device may have been used to start the fire.
Authorities have also offered a $2,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest. In addition to the reward, there have been several online fundraisers to assist with repairs to the mosque. By Tuesday afternoon, the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut's social media page had received more than $66,000 in pledges.
A bi-partisan group of Connecticut lawmakers also announced plans to free up $5-million in state bonding. This money would be used to increase security at various houses of worship across Connecticut.
State Senator Saud Anwar, who is a Democrat from South Windsor and one of the main sponsors of the legislation, said the money will help create a sense of resiliency and protection at churches, synagogues and mosques.
"We don't yet have all the facts and details regarding the arson attack in New Haven, but no one should feel unsafe or unwelcome in their place of worship," he said.
According to AP, the legislation would establish a competitive grant programme that is similar in nature to one that already makes money available to schools. The funds can be used to install things such as remote door entry systems, video monitoring and shatterproof windows.