Sunday, March 16, 2008

There is no compulsion in Islam but Moslem family home gets torched all the same.

"We have a fear of death."

Attacks may be related to ongoing dispute at the local Islamic Center.

Several Muslims say their lives are at risk because they dared speak out in what has become an ongoing dispute in their community.

Yesterday, one of the people claiming to be victims of ongoing violent attacks, Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed, watched in horror as a car pulled up outside his Panatella Blvd. N.W. home and a man armed with a jerrycan and booze bottle got out, scaled the fence and set his home ablaze as seven children and three other adults slept.

Hours earlier, Ahmed had called 911 after two threatening men came to the door.

"I was so upset," said Ahmed, adding that's why he was still awake at about 4 a.m. when he saw the stranger set his home on fire.

"Within two minutes, we had a big fire," he said.

"We have a fear of death."

Arson Det. Scott Sampson said the family was definitely targeted and the fire could easily have been deadly. The suspects hurled two Molotov cocktails at the home, one which ignited grass and another which bounced off a window, setting the exterior of the house on fire, said Sampson.

"If he wasn't up, the house would have gone up," Sampson said.

Cops are investigating several other attacks against members of the Muslim community with the help of RCMP, Services Alberta and the National Security investigation section.

Police have not ruled out other attacks may be related to the ongoing dispute among Muslim community members which involves human-rights complaints and allegations of misappropriation of funds.

Najeeb Butt says his wife was attacked during a recent invasion at their northeast home, her hands slashed as she put them up to defend herself.

"My main concern is the protection of myself, my family and my friends," he said.

Cops are looking for two Caucasian men about 20 to 25 years old who may have been in a two-door car, possibly a Pontiac, at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call cops at 266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.