KEY POINTS

  • A woman stands accused of fire bombing religious institutions in the Baltimore area
  • She allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at a mosque and a Jehova's Witness Center
  • She is being held without bond after failing to show for two bail hearings 

A recent spate of fire bombings in the Baltimore area have drawn the ire of the city’s Muslim community as they clamor for more stringent and aggressive hate crime prosecution.

The woman and alleged bomber at the center of the controversy is Heather Meisel from the town of Halethorpe. Meisel stands accused of firebombing a mosque in Halethorpe and a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in Glen Burnie. Now a Muslim advocate group is imploring Baltimore prosecutors to mirror Arundel County prosecutors’ efforts of pursuing hate crime charges against the woman.

The Capital Gazette reports that Meisel has been charged in Arundel County with one misdemeanor hate crime count of defacing a religious property. She is also charged with attempted murder and arson after throwing a Molotov cocktail into a fully populated Jehovah’s Witness facility in Glen Burnie, according to authorities. She faces charges of arson and attempted arson in Baltimore after she allegedly broke windows and threw homemade explosives into a house and an Islamic Center.

In a statement categorically condemning the crimes and Meisel, Maryland director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Zainab Chaudry said places of worship are “sanctuaries that deserve to be safeguarded and protected" and that attacks should “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Baltimore County State’ Attorney Scott Shellenberger said that once the investigations against Meisel is complete, the city will consider additional charges.

Meisel was arrested at her parents’ house by ATF for the attacks, which occurred on Feb. 12 and 13. She is currently being held without bond at Jennifer Road Detention Center in Annapolis. She refused twice to attend bail review hearings.

Chaudry and other members of the Council are quick to point out that the attacks come at a time of heightened islamophobia and religious bigotry in the United States.

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