Early Saturday morning, the Victoria Fire Department was called to the scene of a burning Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas.
According to Time Magazine, a clerk at a nearby convenience store noticed smoke and flames around 2 a.m. and called the fire department. But by the time they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.
The Islamic Center of Victoria at 201 E. Airline Rd is fully engulfed in fire. A clerk at nearby Exxon station said he called 911 abt 2 a.m. pic.twitter.com/yc9akLNfnq
— Jon Wilcox (@thrilcox) January 28, 2017
Only hours after President Donald Trump had signed executive orders for his “extreme vetting” of Muslim refugees and visa holders from entering the country, many people were quick to judge the source of the fire.
Here are some of the various theories:
— Alex Morash (@AlexMorash) January 29, 2017
this is what this"ban" will cause! More hate and discrimination! This is not what America stands 4! #NoBanNoWall
— Arika Brown (@brown_arika) January 29, 2017
— Danyal Gilani (@DanyalGilani) January 29, 2017
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon recorded by Victoria Advocate, the Victoria Fire Department said they were able to put the fire out in two hours, but they had no new information on the origin of the fire.
During the news conference, the fire department offered the floor to a member of the Islamic Center, Abe Ajrami, to share his insights from the past few hours.
He told members of the press conference:
“It’s been a hard day. It’s been a shocking day. This is our church, our home…this is the place where our kids grew up and we have a lot of memories in this place. Seeing the fire has been very hard, but that being said, we believe according to our faith that there’s a reason for everything and God always has a plan. And after tragedies, sometimes good things happen. We’ve been able to meet with incredible people…”
Ajrami told members of the community not to be quick to judge, and that he was proud of Victoria for rallying around the Islamic community in times of need.
He then shared his message of hope:
“The other positive thing is unity. Either through calling, Facebook, text messages, people are doing so much to help. Four churches in town offered their church for us to pray in. This is the Victoria we know. This is a beautiful and great city. I don’t care what they say in mainstream media. We have a wonderful community.”
The community has shared that they would like for people to refrain from judging to allow the investigators to determine the main cause.
Investigation is still ongoing on the cause of fire by local, state, FBI, and ATF! The outpouring support from our…
Their post read, in part:
“Please don’t politicize the tragedy! Stay United.”
In the same press conference, Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek said that it was a “sad day to lose any house of worship in Victoria,” but that he was proud to see the community come together. The investigation continues.
As of the time of this writing, the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.