UPDATES WITH TURKEY'S AK PARTY SPOKESPERSON
By Betul Yuruk
NEW YORK (AA) – An arson attack over the weekend on a mosque in the U.S. state of Connecticut has caused "large-scale damage," an official Turkish body said Monday.
In a statement, the Religious Services Attache of the Turkish Consulate General in New York said an investigation is underway into the fire at Diyanet Mosque in the city of New Haven and efforts are continuing to catch the perpetrators.
The fire occurred around 4 p.m. Sunday, the seventh day of Ramadan, a holy month during which Muslims fast and pray. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the religion of Islam.
A reward of up to $2,500 has been offered for any information that leads to the arrest or conviction of the perpetrators, according to officials.
The statement said the fire started at the mosque’s entrance and reached the third floor through the exterior side of the building.
"There was no loss of life or injury in the fire, but it is determined that the mosque has suffered large-scale damage. Tons of water used to put out the fire [also] caused damage to the building's unburnt part," it said.
The incident saddened the Turkish community in the United States, primarily in New Haven, the statement added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the arson "heinous" and said the perpetrators should be identified and "sentenced swiftly".
"Arson in Diyanet Mosque in #NewHaven during Ramadan is another example of increasing #Islamophobia in the world. No loss of life is our only consolation," said Cavusoglu.
The minister also called for a united stance against Islamophobia and racism.
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesman Omer Celik also reacted to the attack in a tweet on Tuesday saying hate does not have borders.
Celik said the ideology of hatred is currently targeting mosques, but will gradually spread to all sanctuaries.
"Those who treat Islam as an enemy, poison all values of humanity," he stressed.
*Servet Gunerigok in Washington and Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara contributed to the story.