Police: fire at Muslim-owned lodge was not hate crime, owner charged with setting blaze

AP, Sep. 11, 2002

HEBER CITY, Utah (AP) A fire that damaged a Muslim-owned motel last summer was not a hate crime, police said Wednesday as a co-owner was accused of setting the blaze.

Mazhar Tabesh, 39, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated arson, said police Sgt. Jason Bradley.

Tabesh claimed the July 21 fire, which caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, was a hate crime and the FBI sent an agent who specializes in civil-rights cases to investigate.

”We are really scared because we are Muslim probably the only Muslims in area and we are the target,” Tabesh said at the time.

He said the blaze started in a room rented by a man who paid cash, showed no identification and was seen leaving with another man just after the fire started. He also claimed to have been receiving threatening calls that increased after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

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This post was last updated: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 8:48 PM, Central European Time (CET)