An arson investigation has been launched after a suspicious fire at a mosque in Toowoomba, in Queensland. Police say it appears someone lit a fire in a plastic bin after they forced entry to a wooden building next to the main Mosque building on West Street, just after 1pm on Saturday.
SBS A gas stove was also deliberately turned on, but the leaking gas failed to ignite. Fire crews rushed to the property to find fumes pouring into the building, as well as minor fire damage. The incident is being treated as suspicious, police say.
The mosque – the Queensland city’s first – opened last year after years of fundraising by local Muslim groups. Islamic Society of Toowoomba founding president Professor Shahjahan Khan said it looked as though someone had tried to burn the mosque’s office door and leak gas into the main meeting hall.
Other patrons told him CCTV cameras mounted inside the building had been broken along with a number of windows. “It’s just out of expectations that this kind of attempt to burn places of worship can happen,” Prof Khan told AAP.
The incident had the hallmarks of a well-planned, serious attempt to burn the mosque down despite such an attack being out of character for such a peaceful city, he said.
“I hope that it’s going to unite the community more than anything else. (Oh, you can be sure it will)