Authorities investigate arson at Islamic scholar’s former home
By Randy Ludlow
A deliberately set fire at the Hilliard home of the son of a controversial Islamic scholar is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
The arson fire heavily damaged a house at 4907 Britton Farms Dr. once occupied by Salah Soltan, but now the home of his 24-year-old son, Mohamed, authorities said.
The younger Soltan and a friend escaped the fire without injury after it was reported to Norwich Township firefighters at 5:24 a.m. Monday.
Firefighters arrived to find flames coming from the rear of the $290,000 house, which sustained extensive damage, said Fire Chief Dave Long.
The house was painted with anti-Islamic slurs a couple of months ago, authorities said.
The elder Soltan, who now lives abroad, is a native of Egypt and formerly was a professor at Cairo University and president of Islamic American University in suburban Detroit.
Some conservative critics have accused Soltan of being sympathetic to terrorist causes. He has said while he supports Palestinian rights, he condemns terrorism as a violation of Islamic law.
The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday called on the FBI to assist in the investigation of the motive behind the fire.
The FBI is working with Hilliard police in investigating the circumstances of the fire, said Special Agent Harry Trombitas, spokesman for the Columbus field office.
Hilliard police called in state fire marshal investigators yesterday to assist in the probe and determined it was arson.