Atlanta, GA, August 26, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed outrage today over what appears to be a hate crime directed at the Muslim community in Savannah, Georgia.
According to reports from Savannah fire investigators, a weekend fire at the Islamic Center in the south side area destroyed a building that had been used as a mosque by approximately 100 of the estimated 400 to 500 Muslims in the Savannah area. Early evidence indicates that this arson was motivated by hate.
In a letter to the Islamic Center, Deborah Lauter, ADL Southeast Regional Director, said:
"While you are the direct victim of this arson, there can be no doubt that the perpetrators intended to use this historical form of intimidation to spread religious intolerance and hate in Savannah and throughout our country. It is our sincere prayer that people of goodwill in your community will not only help you build a new mosque, but will use this incident to help build bridges of understanding to break down prejudice, bigotry and hatred."
ADL called upon public officials, religious leaders, and others throughout Georgia and this country to speak out forcefully and clearly that such a heinous act cannot and will not be tolerated.
The League commended law enforcement for thoroughly and swiftly investigating the crime and urged that if evidence sustains the early belief, that it be prosecuted as a hate crime under Georgia's Hate Crime Statute.