Hindu, Muslim groups condemn New York attacks

Homemade firebombs were hurled at a house used for Hindu worship services, Islamic centre Imam Al-Khoei Foundation on Jan 01.

Washington: Strongly condemning the recent attacks on an Islamic centre and a temple in New York, Hindu and Muslim groups have urged people of all faiths to come together take it as an opportunity for generating better understanding.

The Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), in a statement, urged Hindus and people of all faiths to come together and turn the narrative around and make it an opportunity for generating better understanding through interfaith seva.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), in another statement, said it was extremely concerned and disturbed by the series of attacks perpetrated throughout Queens, New York on January 01.

Homemade firebombs were hurled at a house used for Hindu worship services, Islamic centre Imam Al-Khoei Foundation, a home and a convenience store.

"America is a country built upon the foundation of respect for diversity and freedom of expression for all," ISNA president Imam Mohamed Magid said.

"We are confident that the actions of the few who wish to challenge these freedoms will always be met with peaceful support from the millions of others who wholeheartedly support and respect diversity in America," he said.

The Queens attacks occurred in one of the more diverse stretches of the city`s most diverse borough. Jamaica Avenue and Hillside Avenue, two main thoroughfares, are dotted with halaal shops, Latino restaurants, Hindu temples and storefront Christian churches, the HASC statement said.

"These heinous attacks on a Hindu temple and the home of a Hindu family are outrageous and completely unacceptable in our open and tolerant society," said Sheetal Shah, senior director of Hindu American Foundation (HAF).

"Whenever members of any community, or their places of worship, are targeted based on religious affiliation, it is an attack on all Americans," she said.

40-year-old truck driver Ray Lazier Lengend, a naturalised US citizen from Guyana, had confessed to attacking the locations with firebombs over the weekend, citing personal grudges.

Lengend has been charged with arson, arson as hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the bombings on January 01, police said.

"We applaud the New York Police for their prompt and professional investigation of these attacks, and express gratitude to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and US Congressman Gregory Meeks for their statements of condemnation," Shah added.