No motive yet in Ramadan arson at a west end Islamic school

Wed, September 27, 2006

Ottawa police arson investigators are still not
calling an arson last weekend at a west end Islamic
school a hate crime as they continue their search for
a suspect.

Abraar School at 1085 Grenon Ave. was the site of a
fire early Saturday morning that caused about $100,000
in damage.

It fell on the first day of the Muslim religious month
of Ramadan, observed by fasting from sunrise to sunset
and extra prayers.

Const. Isabelle Lemieux said arson officers are
investigating but so far the hate crimes unit is not

Specific criteria are used to assess whether an
incident is a hate crime. Although the fire targeted a
religious site and fell on a significant date, there
was no "messaging" on the school that would indicate
religious motivations.

It isn't entirely being ruled out, however.

"Saying it's a hate crime is a big thing and ... we're
not ready to jump the gun on this one," said the
school board's chairman, Abdala Kheireddine.


Imam Gamal Solaiman, during his sermon Monday night,
urged worshippers to wait for the facts from police.

"We have to respond sensibly to this unpleasant
situation," he said.

Meanwhile, religious leaders around the city rallied
their support for Islamic community.

"I don't really care what you call it -- arson is
arson is arson," said Rabbi Reuven Bulka. "It's worse
if it's motivated by hate, but I can't see any arson
motivated by love."

Ottawa's Archbishop Marcel Gervais also condemned the


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