The fire on Christmas Day at a Houston mosque attracted national attention as the latest hate crime directed against Muslims. However, police yesterday arrested the man allegedly responsible and it turns out to be a regular at the mosque, Gary Nathaniel Moore, 37, of Houston.
Police say that Moore told investigators he has attended the mosque for five years, coming five times per day to pray seven days per week. While he claimed to be the last to leave the mosque at 2 p.m., he said that there was no smoke or fire.
MJ Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, said he was unfamiliar with Moore.
We have often discussed the concerns over hate crimes in term of free speech and due process as well as its effectiveness. However, what if the mosque was torched by a Muslim. Is it still a hate crime or just a hoax?
Texas defines a hate crime as as crimes that are motivated by prejudice, hatred, or advocacy of violence. If it is true that the fire was set by a Muslim to appear like a hate crime, is it just arson?