A U.S. man accused of setting fire to a mosque in Oregon has been charged with committing a hate crime.
In the indictment Thursday, the Justice Department says Cody Crawford took action to intentionally damage, deface, and destroy religious property.
Authorities allege Crawford set fire to the Oregon mosque in November 2010 because of the “race, color, or ethnic characteristics” of the people who worship there. The attack occurred just two days after federal authorities prevented a Somali man from exploding a bomb at an Oregon Christmas tree lighting.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the mosque burning threatened the “core American value” of religious freedom, and said the Justice Department's Civil Rights division would “aggressively protect” the right to practice their faith “without fear of violence or intimidation.”
If convicted, Crawford could face up to thirty years in prison.