Authorities Investigating Christmastime Attacks on Mosques in Texas and California
Police in Texas and California are investigating separate fires at mosques around Christmastime.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the Houston Fire Department confirms arson investigators are looking into what they believe was an intentionally set two-alarm fire at a mosque in the southwest section of the city on Christmas afternoon.
The Houston mosque sustained severe damage before firefighters extinguished the blaze. Surrounding businesses were also damaged, officials say.
Investigators are looking through surveillance footage for potential suspects, the statement says, though no arrests have been made.
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Meanwhile, police in California are seeking information about a possible hate crime reported Saturday morning at the Tracy Islamic Center in Tracy.
Officials say a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the mosque, damaging a side door. The attack is believed to have occurred sometime between Christmas evening and the following morning.
The Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate the firebombing in Tracy as a hate crime.
“The recent spike in hate incidents targeting mosques nationwide is unprecedented and should be of concern to all Americans,” said CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra in a statement sent to PEOPLE. “We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a hate crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”