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Winona Islamic Center head says building 'absolutely' will be rebuilt after fire

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The president of the Board of Directors of the Winona Islamic Center says the building will "absolutely" be rebuilt following a fire Friday that destroyed the center and two other buildings, the Winona Daily News reports.

Mohamed Elhindi tells the newspaper that the building was insured but the policy will not cover all of the losses. A fund has been set up at a bank in Winona to help collect donations.

Officials believe the fire started early morning Friday in the center. Police and fire officials Monday said there still is no evidence pointing to arson.

Elhindi, too, dismisses any notion that the fire was set intentionally.

“It’s just not the nature of Winona,” Elhindi told the Daily News. “There’s no reason to believe somebody caused this issue."

Elhindi also told Minnesota Public Radio that the center has never had "somebody call" and say "we're going to do this to the mosque, or you shouldn't have a mosque here. We never feel threatened."

The Associated Press reports that investigators are looking into electrical issues as the possible cause of the fire.

On Tuesday, Deputy Police Chief Tom Williams said the the most significant burn and char marks were near an electrical conduit in the center.

The center, which was created in 1993, serves nearly 400 people.

While the center is in the rebuilding process, Elhindi says, numerous churches in the area have reached out to offer space for worship, beginning with Central Lutheran Church.

Six businesses were affected overall in the fire. Winona Mayor Mark Peterson says the blaze was the worst the city sustained since 1862.

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