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Arson Suspected in Fire at Islamic Community Center

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After a fire at an Islamic community center in southeast Houston, a group is calling on law enforcement to investigate the incident to find out if it's a hate crime.

Houston fire officials say the fire at the Quba Islamic Institute started at about 5 a.m. Friday morning, according to KTRK. The fire ripped through the vacant building, recently purchased by the Quba Islamic Institute with plans to turn it into a community center, KHOU reports.

Houston Fire Department arson investigators were on the scene investigating, but HFD officials haven't released a statement on the possible cause of the blaze. However, Ahsan Zahid, son of the imam, told the Houston Chronicle that arson investigators said an accelerant was used to get the fire going.

The building was badly damaged by the fire but it was vacant and no injuries have been reported. However, a post on Quba Islamic Insitute's Facebook page stated they believe this wasn't an accident:

Assalam-u-Alaikum dear Quba Family! There has been a tragic event at Quba Islamic Institute this morning. Some time around 5:00 AM this morning, a fire was started in our third building. The blaze was so hot that the complete building and all its many contents were destroyed. But, Alhamdulillah, we are alive, safe, and united, by the favor of Allah!

Preliminary investigation has concluded that the fire was started by a person. Who it was is unknown at this time. But the investigators have made clear that the fire was not accidental. Let us be clear: the investigation is ongoing. Please do not spread hate; spread love, tolerance, and harmony, just as Prophet Muhammad (S) did.

That being said: all activities will continue today, Inshallah. Jumuah Salah and Family Night will go on as planned, Inshallah.

We ask that you pray for this Institute, that Allah protect us, and make us a Light for all the World to behold.

The school and mosque, also located on the property, were unharmed.

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