NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - A multi-agency response to a mosque arson investigation in New Haven continued on Tuesday.

Gov. Ned Lamont called the fire at the Diyanet Mosque on Middletown Avenue a hateful act.

"To the community at large and every other house of worship, we are taking it very serious," said Chief Tony Reyes, New Haven Police Department. "We are working with our federal and state partners to make sure there is no underlying issues to the greater religious community.”

From the beginning of the investigation, the ATF and FBI were called in because the fire happened at a house of worship.

The incident has not yet been labeled a hate crime. The people who attend the mosque, however, said there's no other way to look at it.

According to police, someone set fire to the mosque on Sunday afternoon as worshippers were inside.

Channel 3 was told the fire started near the entrance on the first floor. 

"For me, it's sadness for the community, anger for the firefighters who put their lives at risk. That's awful, I'm a daughter of a firefighter. As family it's just awful, and just gratitude that nobody was hurt," said Lisa Kinney-Bajwa. 

The imam and his family who live there safely made it out.

The damage to the building was described as significant.

On Tuesday, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle held a news conference looking to secure $5 million in state bonding to help local houses of worship improve security measures.

Other churches and synagogues are offering support by sharing their space for services.

“I think its the blessings of Ramadan that made people incredible charitable and generous in giving," said Omer Bajwa, of New Haven.

Congregants said they're thankful, but still shaken by the idea that someone intentionally set fire to their place of worship during the holy season of Ramadan.

"This is something that strikes fear in the hearts of everyone here," said Tark Aoudi, Council on American-Islamic Relations. "I’m feeling sad that we just can’t practice our faith without these types of incidents happening."

Officials said the mosque has been under renovation for nearly a decade. It was nearing completion.

However, it's now unclear when it will be rebuilt or be able to hold services.

"This is like the Muslim Christmas, if the Catholic Church gets burned down on Dec. 25 or Three Kings Day," Aoudi said.

Rewards ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 between the community and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have been posted.

An online fundraiser was started to help out the mosque, which can be found here.

Just two days after someone set the fire, tens of thousands of dollars have already been pledged to help them recover.

The mosque's president said he is thankful for all of the support.

“I’ve been getting phone calls from France, Germany, Turkey, countries, around the United States," said Haydar Elevli.

The mosque is also working with the city to see if they can put trailers up so they can resume prayer services.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact New Haven police.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.