Mosque of Orlando shooter burned down

On June 12, 2016, Americans and the world alike were devastated when the news of another shooting reached their ears. Forty-nine innocent people lost their lives and another fifty-three were wounded while enjoying Latino night at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting was proclaimed a terrorist attack by the Orlando police department and was committed by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, who was shot at the scene of the crime by Orlando police. The hate crime against the LGBT community was the deadliest terrorist attack since the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

On September 11, 2016, the morning of the 15th anniversary of the deadly plane crashes, a Florida mosque was intentionally set on fire. This particular mosque was attended by the Pulse shooter.

The Orlando Police Department arrested a Joseph Michael Schreiber for arson on Wednesday, September 14. Based on several anti-Islamic comments and posts on his social media, the arson has been enhanced with a hate-crime charge, which means the crime is now a first-degree felony. However, Schreiber could face life in prison as a habitual offender as this is the second time he has been charged with a felony.

No one was injured in the fire, but Wilfredo Ruiz, Florida spokesman on American-Islamic Relations, stated in a Huffington Post article that the attack can be compared to a “Christian community on Christmas” being attacked. He went on to say that “the concern extends beyond this particular community into the broader community and nationwide. This is big news.”

The attack fell on the end on the Day of Arafat, a day of fasting preceding Eid-al-Adha, one of Islam’s most significant holy days. The mosque has been receiving threats since the Orlando shooting because people believe that the radical beliefs of Mateen may have intensified during his attendance at the mosque.

Although no link has been found between the mosque and Mateen’s radical beliefs, people have been quick to react and draw connections.

It is prejudice, ignorance, and fear. People react violently because they are afraid, “said Bryce Stoddart, a psychology and philosophy teacher here at PVHS. Stoddart, who has also taught comparative religion, went on to say, “it is a symptom of a larger problem it exists within the hearts and minds of Americans.”