Islamic Center Lk Travis
5 min readFeb 7, 2017

A Month After Our Islamic Center of Lake Travis Was Burnt Down

The new year starts for most people with hopes and aspirations, setting new resolutions or skirting around them. For us, 2017 started with a huge crush on our hopes and dreams. It was early Saturday morning on January 7th, the coldest morning in Austin thus far, that we received a call from our ICLT building contractor asking us to show up onsite. His exact words were “There has been an incident, please come to the site as soon as you can”. We have had small incidents of vandalism and graffiti in the past. While we prayed that this ‘incident’ would be something similar, the somberness of the contractors’s voice told otherwise. We arrived on site to this.

Jan 07 2017

Just a few days in the past our building looked like this

Dec 2016

You can imagine the emotions that we experienced upon seeing all our hard work, heartfelt efforts and dedication literally, go up in flames. Our entire community went through the regular stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, all in the shortest time-frame, recognizing that we needed to mobilize quickly to create a space for our community to heal.

Irony of ironies, the very first collective project of the ICLT community back in 2011 was to raise funds to help our neighbors who had lost their homes in the Steiner Ranch fires, rebuild their lives. And here we were, 6 years later, trying to figure out how to rebuild ours.

Our kids contributing to victims of Steiner Ranch Fires in 2011

Since our devastating fire, a lot has happened in our community and much of it spearheaded by our friends and neighbors. We will be writing more details on some of the specific topics in the near future.

  • Jan 7 and 8: We receive some media impressions in Austin and Texas, but nothing at the national level . We would be remiss in saying that we were disappointed, but the country was getting ready to inaugurate a new President so our devastating fires took a backseat. Much of this press coverage is on our website and facebook page.
  • Jan 7: Mindy Gulati of Lake Travis Progressives launches a Gofundme page for the rebuilding effort for ICLT.
  • Jan 8: ICLT launches a fundraising page on LaunchGood.
  • Jan 8: The newly formed team at CAIR Austin joined us in our efforts to raise awareness of the fires
  • Jan 8: Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) joins the investigations
  • Jan 10:, we get a attention from Austin Mayor Steve Adler
  • Jan 11: Representative Lloyd Doggett sends us a flag that has been flown over the Nations Capitol and an eloquent and supportive letter
US Congress Representative Lloyd Doggett for ICLT
  • Jan 15: ICLT organizes a Community Solidarity Day and we are overwhelmed by the love and support from the community. Lake Travis Methodist Church hosts the event and it is incredibly well attended by the leaders ofinterfaith work in Austin, the community-at-large and many leaders of the public security. The Travis County Fire Marshal,Tony Callaway, updates the community on the investigations. You can follow all the speeches from our live event on FB site
  • Jan 17: insurance company sends their investigation team to work with us
  • Jan 21: as previously planned, ICLT hosts a fundraiser for the completion of our construction. The community shows good support.
  • Jan 30: ICLT attends the Texas Muslim Capital Day, organized by CAIR Texas. Amazing to see so much love and support.

In the four weeks that followed the burning of our Islamic Center, two other mosques in the nation were also burned to the ground — one in Bellevue, WA and the next, closer to home, in Victoria, TX For the untrained, the similarities speak for themselves. All three of these fires occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday.

The first one was on Jan 14th (a week after ours)in Bellevue, Washington

The next one happened closer to home in Victoria, TX

The news of Victoria mosque, the third in the line of fires, went viral due to their efforts, timing and huge support from media heavy weights including Trevor Noah and Rachel Maddow.

Rachel Maddow on Quebec, Victoria and Texas CAIR event

So far, the authorities see no connection in these incidents but we are sure most mosques and Islamic centers all over the country are investing in their security .

We have worked very closely with the Travis County Fire Marshal Tony Callaway and his team, especially Deputy Daniel Berger. They have coordinated with the ATF and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Our interactions have been developed mutual respect and we are grateful to have them working with us. At this time, the investigation is still ongoing. A press release will be issued soon.

How can you help?

  • Please help get our story out. The more people that know, the more we can build a stronger, more unified community.
  • Help us find a space to meet and pray from 9.30p.m. to 11.30p.m. in Ramadan 2017, May 27th through June 26th.
  • Help us fund raise. Even with our insurance coverage, we now have additional security costs. Here is the link to our GoFundme page.
  • Please reach out to us! We love to learn and get to know our neighbors and you in turn, can learn about us. Most of you know us already as neighbors, doctors, CPAs, engineers, teachers, volunteers, PTA Parents, golfers, runners, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians….know us as regular Muslims, too.

Quoting one of our members, ‘If you know us, you will fall in love with us!’. Peace.

Islamic Center Lk Travis

The Islamic Center of Lake Travis is the focal point for the growing local Muslim community in Lake Travis. Peace.