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Hope after tragedy; Winona mosque hoping fundraiser can help it rebuild

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Two months after Winona's Islamic Center was destroyed by a large fire in downtown Winona, members of the mosque are looking for a new home.

The fire on Sept. 13 destroyed the Islamic Center and damaged several other buildings in the city's historic downtown.

MPR News reports that insurance paid about $155,000. The center's president Mohamed Elhindi said most of that money went to clean up the debris.

Arson was ruled out as a cause. Fire officials believe the blaze started in between the ceiling and the roof of the center.

After the fire, Elhindi said the downtown mosque absolutely would be rebuilt. But now mosque leaders are considering whether to rebuild at the same downtown location or to look at renovating an abandoned school district building, just outside of the city's downtown.

MPR says to rebuild on the same site it would cost nearly $600,000, while renovating the old school would be around $380,000.

Elhindi said they want to be near the city's downtown because a lot of their members walk, so they are looking to find something in walking distance.

Since the fire, the group has been receiving an outpouring of support, according to Elhindi. He told MPR they have received $45,000 in donations from all across the region.

Mosque leaders and members of various Twin Cities Muslim organizations are holding a fundraising dinner and lecture in New Brighton on Saturday to help raise money for the mosque in Winona.

Elhindi said he is hoping to find a new home by June, for the holy month of Ramadan.

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