Evangelist minister and Islam critic charged with arson in Alabama

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Friday, May 2, 2008

A Baptist evangelist minister and critic of Islam was arrested Wednesday and charged with first degree attempted arson for allegedly burning tax records of his religious organization in an attempt to set his building on fire. Anis Shorrosh, 75, of Daphne, Alabama, was arrested after a fire was discovered Tuesday night in the trash room of the Loma Alta Towers condominium where he lives. 50 residents had to be evacuated from the building, but no one was hurt.

Location map of Baldwin County in Alabama, City of Daphne highlighted in Baldwin County map.
Image: Arkyan.

After a burning plastic garbage container set off the alarm, one of the building residents put out the fire using a fire extinguisher. Law enforcement are still investigating the incident, and are not yet certain why the tax records were set on fire.

According to local police, members of the condo owners association had signed a warrant on Monday, accusing Shorrosh of criminal mischief for allegedly tampering with the security system of his building. "He had gotten frustrated with the security system, and he took a hammer to it," said Police Lieutenant Jud Beedy.

He endangered a lot of people.

—Police Lieutenant Jud Beedy

Lt. Beedy said that if the fire had gotten worse than it was, there could have been injuries or deaths, saying "He endangered a lot of people." According to Lt. Beedy, building security cameras caught Shorrosh on camera entering and exiting the trash room of the building. Police Chief David Carpenter told WKRG News 5, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, that Shorrosh used an accelerant to start the fire, in what police believe was an attempt to burn the building down.

Shorrosh is in custody on a US$25,000 bond. He has spoken critically to Christian organizations and radio programs about Islam, and has claimed that Muslims in South Africa thrice attempted to kill him in 1989.

Shorrosh has appeared opposite Muslims in debates between Islam and Christianity, and is the author of 10 books including Islam: a Threat or a Challenge, and Islam Revealed. In 2006, the United States government issued a disclaimer denying that the book The True Quran, written by Shorrosh, was a "new American Quran". The U.S. government stated that the book was Shorrosh's attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Shorrosh is a Palestinian Arab, and according to his website www.islam-in-focus.com he was born in the town of Nazareth. Nazareth is home to many of Israel's Arab citizens and is also a Christian pilgrimage center, as a historical location described in the New Testament as the boyhood home of Jesus Christ.


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