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‘Suspicious’ arson leaves students in cold

31 January 2012 General 11 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
The home of Mohamed Soltan and Ahmed Mahmoud was set on fire on the morning of Martin King Jr. Day. Soltan said the crime was hate oriented.

The home of Mohamed Soltan and Ahmed Mahmoud was set on fire on the morning of Martin King Jr. Day. Soltan said the crime was hate oriented.

“One second I’m comfortable in bed, and the next second I’m running out of the house in the freezing cold, running for my life,” recalls Mohamed Soltan.

Soltan, a sixth-year in economics at Ohio State, and his roommate Ahmed Mahmoud, a third-year in finance, were victims of arson in their Hilliard home on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The FBI, along with the Hilliard Division of Police, have yet to identify the culprit of the arson that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.

On Jan. 16, Norwich Township Fire Department responded to a 911 call made by Soltan at about 5:30 a.m.

Mahmoud, the first of the two to discover the fire, said although he did hear what he described as a “loud banging noise,” it was not until the smoke detectors went off that he realized the house was on fire.

“I immediately ran into Mohamed’s room and woke him up. That’s when we realized the situation and what’s going on, and we got out of the house,” Mahmoud said. “At first, I figured it was Mohamed moving around. I was laying in bed and all of a sudden the smoke detectors went off.”

Soltan said he was in a deep sleep, and it wasn’t until Mahmoud woke him up that he became aware of his surroundings.

“I’m a very heavy sleeper, and I remember Ahmed coming into my room shouting ‘Soltan, Soltan, there’s a fire’,” Soltansaid.

Both men said they did not actually see the fire, but they were surrounded by thick clouds of smoke as they made their way out of the burning house.

Soltan calls the arson a hate crime, saying there was no way the fire was an accident.

“We don’t use the fireplace; I make sure that (when) I cook, I turn everything off, so there is no way this could’ve been anything else but a hate crime,” Soltan said. “So for someone to purposefully set the house on fire while people are sleeping at five in the morning, there is no other explanation for it that these people are attempting to kill my friend and I.”

Doug Francis, chief of police for the city of Hilliard, said the origins of the fire seemed “suspicious,” due to the lack of burn patterns, the fire’s point of origin and the use of flammable materials.

“Our investigations show that there was in fact an accelerant utilized in the home, and they ruled out any natural cause of the fire, and so with utilizing their tools, they determined it was an arson,” Francis said.

Francis said the FBI and the Norwich Township Fire Department are also involved in the investigation.

Francis contacted the FBI because there have been previous reports of Soltan’s home and car being painted with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slurs.

“We immediately brought in the FBI simply because if we did determine it was in fact an arson, we also wanted to look at it as a potential hate crime,” Francis said.

Francis also said in order to determine the arson as a hate crime, the individual responsible for the fire must be captured.

Despite media reports saying the motive behind the arson was to target the 24-year-old’s father, Salah Soltan, who is said to be a controversial Muslim scholar, Mohamed Soltan said his father’s opinions and views are “irrelevant.”

“My father’s views are 4,000 miles away,” Mohamed Soltan said.

Eric Manske, fire marshal at Norwich Township Fire Department, said the fire originated at the “back half of the house.”

Francis called the arson a form of “ethnic intimidation,” and said the case is “very unique” because Hilliard has never experienced cases of hate crime in the past.

“Not only has it destroyed a home, but it has provided a lot of fear in the victim and that’s what happens with these ethnic intimidation and hate crime issues,” Francis said.

Jennifer Nimer, legal director for the Ohio chapter of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she has called the FBI to report the arson as a hate crime.

Nimer also said there is only one hate crime incident she’s come across in her seven years with CAIR that was as “drastic” as Mahmoud and Mohamed Soltan’s case.

“A couple of years ago a woman that was sprayed in the face with pepper spray, that’s probably the most egregious incident other than this one that I’ve come across since I’ve been working here,” Nimer said.

>> Continue reading: ‘Suspicious’ arson leaves students in cold

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11 Comments »

  1. I’m trying t’ work out what’s t’ “Like” here, is there something I’m missing folks?

  2. I like your pointing out how there’s nothing to like here.

  3. You left out the “Luther”, lol!

  4. Awesome video,needs 2 b shared to all…

  5. These people–these people who set fire to random Muslim folks’ houses–you have to wonder what kind of life they’re living, and what they do in their spare time. And at the same time, you don’t want to know.’

  6. America is Racist country, they are allowing the same shit that happened to Japanese Americans to happen to Muslims today. Muslims want to be treated under the same law as everyone else, meaning if this happened to your white folk or Jewish person they would solve this case before the first donut break. Muslims are not giving fair shake, no wonder they fucking hate Americans who can’t add two plus two morons. The only two things America exports are fear and hate. Last time I checked those two companies were not hiring, so let there recession continue.

  7. The ignorance and racism of people that would do something like this is disgusting. Has society learned nothing from the past?!

  8. Actually, there have been people setting fires to Jewish people’s homes and synagogues. This is a part of a larger pattern of growing anti-Semitism (Arab and Jew) and religious bigotry (Islamophobic and anti-Jewish) that has been occurring over all. In fact, I have read reports that it is getting worse in the UK. Here are some examples of the attacks on Jews that are comparable: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/01/11/rutherford-synagogue-fire-labeled-suspicious/ And here is another one http://www.securityinfowatch.com/news/10613423/synagogue-fire-attacks-in-nj-show-need-for-surveillance This is something that Muslims and Jews have in common. That is why there is a need for both groups to put forth a unified voice against this hatred.

  9. I’m just glad that these students were able to get out alive, because a fire set when people are asleep isn’t meant for the occupants to get out alive. They were blessed.

  10. @Ahmed Mohamed. Muslims don’t hate Americans. A lot of Muslims are Americans. I understand disagreeing with the policies of the American government, but to say that Muslims hate Americans is feeding into the negative propaganda and increasing tension and hate. Do not make mischief on this earth.

  11. Sick. Now you can be targeted just for your father’s views?

    @Halimah:

    Ameen

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