Group asks FBI to probe suspected arson at Marietta mosque

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking the FBI to investigate the suspected arson at a Marietta mosque.

The fire broke out late Monday night at the Islamic Center of Marietta. It likely was intentionally set, Marietta Fire Marshal Scott Tucker told the AJC.

"It appears to be a crime, it appears to be an arson," Tucker said. "There was forcible entry."

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the civil rights and advocacy group known as CAIR, said there's a "vocal minority in our society promoting anti-Muslim bigotry."

"Given the recent wave of incidents targeting American mosques, a possible bias motive for this apparent arson attack must be considered," Hooper said.

Firefighters got the call at 11:30 p.m. Monday. When they arrived at the mosque on Powder Springs Street, flames were coming from the front and back of the converted house. Firefighters were able to save the structure, but the prayer hall sustained a lot of damage.

Mosque members had locked up the building less than an hour before the fire started.

A few years ago, Tucker said, an arsonist targeted an adjacent building belonging to the mosque. Tucker said an arrest was made in that fire, though he could not provide further details.

Fire investigators spent Tuesday morning combing the building for evidence and interviewing mosque members.

Later Tuesday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee released a statement of solidarity with the mosque.

"If this proves to be an act motivated by hatred against the Muslim community in Marietta, we unequivocally condemn this action and call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators," the statement reads. "In Atlanta, we strive to promote respect for all religions, and this is a direct attack on that ideal."