Did members set fire to their own mosque?
The Masjid-e-Mukhtar Mosque elders believes the arson culprits could be their own members
The person who put the torch to the Masjid-e-Mukhtar Mosque in Chatsworth could well have prayed in the same hallowed building they tried to raze on Wednesday.
After a fire ripped through parts of the Croftdene mosque, seemingly starting in a storeroom, mosque elders have cast their gaze to their own rank and file for the culprit.
A passing taxi driver noticed smoke billowing from the windows of the building and stopped to help quell the flames.
As they did so, men were seen running from the back of the mosque and vaulting a wall before they fled.Moulana Yusuf Said Matola, who had himself fought the fire which broke out after morning prayers, said divisions and tensions in the mosque’s community were clues that pointed to foul play.
“I believe that this fire was set deliberately … we have had some conflict in this mosque leading up to this. We have had issues or conflicts with some of our people who come to our mosque over issues of power or control,” he said.
“We see things happening here and there are certain people who [feel aggrieved] after certain rulings. This is not what Islam is about; it is about following one leader and obeying the leader. I can’t explain much more about that but it is indeed very shocking,” Matola added.Members of the police’s Explosives Unit had examined the scene of the fire, and were understood to have been trying to determine how the fire had been set.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said their experts had combed the scene and found nothing suspicious.
“A tyre was also burnt in the storeroom and after it was started it was extinguished by the Moulana.
He said that a case of arson was being investigated and minimal damage had been reported.Motala described the “attack” as shocking and said that it was the first such incident in his seven year tenure.
“We’re in shock – when the fire broke out we were rushing around frantically looking for a hose pipe but in the madness we couldn’t find it,” he said.
The fire at the mosque follows other attacks at mosques in Malmesbury and Verulam.
In the former, 23-year-old Nur Arawal was shot and killed after he stabbed two people to death and injured several others in June.
A month prior, a bloody knife attack at the Imam Hussain mosque left a man dead and two others injured. The gang of knifemen that struck the mosque had set fire to a library, and also planted an improvised explosive device under the moulana’s pulpit.
The attacks raised the spectre of sectarianism among Sunni and Shia Muslims.