Arson attacks on Australian churches make headlines when one turns out to be a Mosque


PHOTO: The mosque’s Imam and his family were in a nearby home but unharmed. (Supplied: Matthew Richards)

I didn’t know that there had been a number of arson attacks on churches in Australia until the latest target turned out to be a Mosque. Predictably when it is a Mosque that gets burnt down all the accusations of Islamophobia and hate crime come out to play. The fact that it was only one in a series of arson attacks on churches and was inside a building that looks like a traditional church ( not a mosque) raises more questions than answers. Who was the real target?

Victoria Police are investigating a suspicious fire that has destroyed Geelong’s main mosque, but authorities believe the attack may actually be targeting churches, not Islam.

Key points:

  • Fire may be part of spate of attacks on Christian churches, police say
  • Bluestone mosque was a former Anglican church
  • Imam says mosque has never received threats
  • Neighbours heard a loud bang before blaze

Inspector Graham Banks from Victoria Police said he did not believe someone had deliberately targeted the mosque, which is housed in a former Uniting church.

“This is one of a series of fires against places of worship in the Geelong area. There’s been four since October last year,” he said.

“It is clearly not what people might envisage a mosque might look like.”

He said the series of fires had been targeting Christian-based churches.

…In April, a suspicious fire gutted a 103-year-old Presbyterian church in Geelong West and it had to be knocked down.

In December, two churches were set alight within half and hour of each other in Norlane.

Imam Mohammad Ramzan, his wife and three children were sleeping in an adjacent home and escaped unharmed.He told 774 ABC Melbourne he never expected such a “calamity” to happen at the mosque.

“We’ve never had any trouble, any issue, any problem; any tension, even. Rather, we’ve received very complementing and love-based compliments from the people,” he said.

“The mosque was known for peace, unity, love, tolerance. It was a real symbol for keeping together the neighbourhood and community.

“We will rebuild. Whether it was accidental or done on purpose it will not shake our determination.

“We will not play into the hand of anyone who has such bad intention.”

Imam Ramzan said he had never received any threats or negative feedback about the mosque.

…Mohommad worshipped at the mosque and said there had not been any trouble during the mosque’s 23-year history.

“It’s a house of serenity, peace and shouldn’t be treated like this,” he said.

“I was in disbelief and shock. I would never have thought this would happen to this mosque. I don’t understand why people do these things.”

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