Local police and officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating a fire at a Houston mosque on Christmas Day that caused significant damage to the building.
Nobody was injured in the Friday fire at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, officials told Houston television station KTRK. About 80 firefighters battled the blaze at the mosque, according to KTRK.
Law enforcement officials do not yet know the cause of the fire, but ATF officials told Houston television station KHOU that there were multiple origins for the fire. An ATF official said that numerous origins was suspicious, as it could suggest arson, according to KHOU.
M.J. Khan with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston told Click 2 Houston that the mosque did not receive any threats or see anything suspicious ahead of the fire.
Mustafaa Carroll, the director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called on law enforcement to investigate whether the fire was a hate crime.
“Because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting mosques nationwide, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this fire,” Carroll told Click 2 Houston.
Since the Paris terrorist attack and the San Bernardino shooting, the U.S. has seen an uptick in hate crimes against Muslims, according to an analysis the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino.