Fire erupts at mosque in Clear Lake area

March 18, 2011 3:28:17 PM PDT
A small fire damaged part of a Clear Lake-area mosque Thursday night. It's actually the second suspicious fire at the mosque in a week, and now Muslim civil rights leaders are asking for a federal investigation.

There was no electricity and the only source of light came from open doors, but Friday afternoon prayers continued at the Clear Lake Education Center on Sea Lark and Ramada, even as fire debris littered a storage area in back. The outlook was still positive.

"We are extremely grateful and appreciative of the outpouring of community support. The investigation is ongoing, still open and we won't be jumping to any conclusions," said mosque spokesperson Rabeea Sultan.

The fire does raise eyebrows. Mosque members first smelled smoke around 8:30pm Thursday. At that time, some attendees immediately feared the worst.

"It's not an accident because somebody is doing it. I don't know who, God knows," said mosque member Syed Mohiuddin.

And they have good reason to be concerned. It's the second fire this week. A few days ago, a small fire was started in a grassy area behind the mosque. That was quickly put out. Much of the damage from Thursday night's fire was to the back of the building.

The two fires has caused the civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, to ask for the FBI to get involved.

"We want to be sober in how we do things because we don't want to get the whole society and the community all upset before we know what the truth is," said Mustafaa Carroll, Executive Director of CAIR Houston.

Mosque members say they will not let a fire or lack of electricity bother them, saying they've never had any problems until now.

"There never has been an incident where there has been any type of hate crime here," said Sultan.

"We have no problem out here. Everybody out here is good. The neighbors are very good," said another worshipper. "They make friendship. I'm satisfied about that."

We asked the Houston Police Department to check the records and within the last year, there have been no calls to the mosque's location.

Arson investigators are looking into this case. ATF tells Eyewitness News they got a call from the fire department to look into this fire as well.