The Diyanet Mosque was almost destroyed

Muslims gathered for Iftar in front of New Haven’s Diyanet Mosque are uncomfortably aware of how things have changed since the structure was set on fire on May 12. They gathered for the Ramadan fast outside the mosque, fully aware of the empty worship place behind them. The usual attendance at the time of Iftar in normal times is about 200 devout Muslims. This time, however, hardly anyone bothered to show up. Members not only ate and listened to Quranic recitations, socialized and prayed.

The fire destroyed a major portion of the mosque’s ground floor. It was soon ascertained by the New Haven police that arson caused the fire. The FBI, along with other agencies, were asked to conduct their independent investigations. The blow was softened a little when neighbors and people from other faiths visited the mosque on May 16 to conduct a vigil and Toni Harp, the Mayor of New Haven accompanied by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal termed the attack terrorism.

The local Muslim community purchased the building in 2009 and the spent the next ten years slowly converting it into a mosque. It is the only mosque in New Haven which fits the idea of what a Middle Eastern mosque would look. It has towering minarets, and the big prayer room has oriental carpets on the floor. There is also a dining room and multiple classrooms used for Turkish language sessions and religious instruction. The mosque also has living quarters for its imam and a separate room for guests.

The local Turkish community wanted to pray in the completed third floor of the mosque in Eid. The third floor had a domed area complete with stained glasses filtering natural light. The architecture caters to the immigrant Turk who misses Turkey and comes daily to socialize inside the mosque, bringing their kids too. The latter had weekly classes and even enjoyed the occasional sleepover. In short, the community built their beloved mosque slowly over the last ten years.

The New Haven attack was simply one of the many increasing number of attacks on Muslims. This is happening all over the world, from Christchurch in New Zealand to a mosque located in the Californian town of Escondido.

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