We were struck by the sincerity of Imam Lahmuddin of the Islamic Center of Joplin, who expressed only relief and gratitude Monday when he was informed there had been a confession in the setting of a fire that burned down the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque in August of last year.
A suspect, 30-year-old Jedediah Stout, of Joplin, also confessed to attempting to burn down the mosque in July of last year. He has been arrested in two arson attempts earlier this month at the Planned Parenthood center in Joplin.
"Maybe God wants to stop him and help him to be a good person,” Lahmuddin told the Globe on Monday.
And on Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, thanked those who had worked on the case.
“We welcome the arrest of the suspect and thank all the local, state and federal law enforcement officials for their determined efforts to bring this case to a successful resolution,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement.
“We offer special thanks to the interfaith community in Joplin and to Americans of all faiths who offered financial support following the destruction of the mosque,” he added.
Contrast those words with the comments being made on social media sites across the area. We won’t repeat them, but they range from the vitriolic to the uniformed. There are even those who cheered the acts of violence.
And, yet, we react in disbelief when we learn of actions that appear to be fueled by hate.
Speech is free in this country, but hate speech extracts a heavy price.
Just ask Imam Lahmuddin and members of the society who are still without a mosque more than a year after the devastating fire.
Copyright The Joplin Globe. Reprinted with permission.