Mosque begins to rebuild, students rally for peace

Mosque begins to rebuild, students rally for peace »Play Video
Inside the burned Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center that police say was targeted by an arsonist.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Members of the mosque targeted by arson and where the suspect in the Portland bomb plot sometimes worshipped began rebuilding it Thursday.

The suspect in the plot, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, was indicted earlier this week on the charge he attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction against people and property. He pleaded not guilty.

The rebuilding efforts were on the same day Oregon State University students rallied on campus for peace.

There were two distinct emotions on the college campus. Students dealt with the emotion of excitement for the upcoming Civil War game this weekend and the angst of the arson attack and Portland bomb plot.

The rally for peace was held at the Memorial Union Quad and speakers from the Muslim Student Association and other student groups called for the situation to be turned into a force to improve community relations.

Students also tied on white arm bands as a sign of peace.

“It shows how much the community of Corvallis can come together as one,” said Danielle Cervantez.

The somber rally was held in the very same spot that will be teeming with excited Beaver and Duck fans Saturday. They will be rallying behind the set for ESPN’s nationwide game-day broadcast before the Civil War.

It was in contrast to what students at the rally felt about the arson and the bomb plot.

“It was emotional for them to see this guy who attended the mosque every once in a while (and) who was (a) friend,” said Mohammed Aleid, a student.

People who were interviewed at the rally said they barely knew the suspect.

“There wasn’t that much that stood out about him,” said Omar Mohamed, the president of the Muslim Student Association. “He was a normal college student. He went to parties; he had fun; he studied for finals week - just a normal guy.”

Meanwhile, repairs were underway at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center which was targeted in the wake of the plot to blow up a bomb at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland last Friday.

Mosque volunteers removed drywall, windows and office equipment damaged by the Sunday fire. A member said the mosque will be installing surveillance cameras.

Members said there are still no clues to who started the fire. Police say someone broke an office window and threw a container of flammable liquid inside.