Repair of arson-damaged Islamic Center remain on schedule


Repairs to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo are on track, officials say, five months after an arsonist burned the prayer room, resulting in damage to the whole building.

“I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said the Islamic Center’s president, Cherrefe Kadri. “Everything’s been painted. The floors that needed to be redone, vinyl-tile floors, have been replaced. In our classrooms, we’ve got all-new bulletin boards and whiteboards.” In the library of the building at 25877 Scheider Rd. in Perrysburg, “new shelving has been built and the new shelving is in.

“We’re now at the point where we’re going to start hopefully putting things that survived back where they belong and figure out what needs to be replaced,” Ms. Kadri said.

Members of the mosque took home soaked Qur’ans for safekeeping; the holy books “won’t be able to be used again,” Ms. Kadri said, but plans will be made to formally dispose disposing of the sacred documents.

Officials are putting a new lighting scheme in the prayer room, Ms. Kadri said, and the hardware and wiring are in place for chandeliers to be installed. Before those go up, however, work crews “have to grind down and get the floor ready for the installation of a carpet. The carpet will be [specially] woven and designed for us.”

Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., was charged with setting the mosque fire. He pleaded guilty in December to one count each of intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying religious property; using a fire to commit a felony; and using and carrying a firearm to commit a crime of violence stemming from the Sept. 30 fire.

Since then, Linn filed a motion with the court to withdraw his guilty pleas; a hearing is set March 21 in U.S. District Court. He had been scheduled to be sentenced on April 16.

After the arson, the Islamic Center’s then-president, Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, had said the mosque was insured and that she was told it would take six months to restore the mosque’s interior.

“We don’t have a firm date right now” to be able to use the entire building, the current president, Ms. Kadri, said, but currently expects workers to meet the end-of-March deadline.