Candlelight vigil planned for mosque hit by arson

Candlelight vigil planned for mosque hit by arson

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Police call the fire at a local mosque a hate crime.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud occasionally worshiped at the center, which somebody set on fire early Sunday.

Federal investigators don't know yet if the arson is connected with his case, but the fire has led a group of community leaders to make a plea for peace.

Corvallis community members and religious leaders are showing their support for the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center.  

One day after the arson fire, the message sparked here is peace and understanding.

"Oh I was horrified that someone would act in this way toward this mosque and these people," said John Evans, minister at the First Christian Church of Corvallis.

Evans says they have something else planned Tuesday, Nov. 30:  A candlelight vigil.

He told KVAL News at the mosque on Monday, "we're going to see if we can surround the mosque with candlelight and our prayers."

Outside the center, the support was also evident.  Flowers and signs were on display. 

Local resident Jan Lahr said she stopped by "because this is my community and these people are my community, and the person who did whatever he did had nothing to do with our community."

Meanwhile at the Oregon State University campus, many students were caught off guard by news of the fire.  Those KVAL News talked to said they were very surprised it happened here in Corvallis.

"Someone trying to take this situation into their own hands is really wrong," student Jessica Teigland said.

"We're lucky to be here and have these people with us," said a thankful Mohamed Siala, director of the Islamic Center.

As the mosque and the community move forward on this journey from darkness to light, Siala said he's glad to have friends like Pastor John Evans.

"We will surround the mosque and the people, the members with love," Siala said. "We will be together.  We will be happy to have you here tomorrow."

Evans replied with, "Thank you."

Tuesday night's candlelight vigil will be at the Salman Alfarisi Center in Corvallis, starting at 5:30.