Leaders in the Muslim community have no doubt that the fire which destroyed their place of worship was intentional. "How convinced are you this was a hate crime?" asked WTOC Reporter, Holly Bristow. "100 percent," answered Dr. Masood Ahmed, Vice Chairman of the Islamic Center.
But the Muslim members are feeling a little better after attending a rally held in support of them by the Savannah Peace Coalition. "We're here in solidarity," said Kelly Gasnick, who organized the event. Nearly two dozen people showed up for the candle light vigil. to rally around the members of the Islamic Center. "It's clear that the members of the community were victims of racial and religious terrorism," said Gasnick.
Members of the Muslim community feel those responsible for setting the blaze that gutted their mosque are ignorant about the religion that started in the Middle East. "They think Muslims are terrorists. When people come to know about Islam and when they truly meet a Muslim following his faith they will not have any negative feelings about them," said Dr. Ahmed. "Unfortunately there are a few people who don't know the true peace and honorability of these people," said Patti Emfinger, a physicians assistant who has worked along side two doctors who are practicing Muslims.
The members of the Islamic center are hoping that more people take the time to get to know them and about the Muslim religion. "We need to get ourselves educated towards different faiths and have tolerance," added Dr. Ahmed.
Members of the Islamic Center say they will rebuild and they're glad to see they have community support. They say unfortunately they lost a few things that cannot be replaced, like a two hundred year old hand written Koran. Savannah Police and the F.B.I. are still investigating the fire. It's been ruled an arson. But, they say it's still to early to officially label it a hate crime.