Muslim community impacted by Winona fire - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Muslim community impacted by Winona fire


WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- A community is figuring out its next step, after the only mosque in Winona is destroyed in an early morning fire. 

 The Islamic Center on Center Street is where the early morning fire is believed to have started, and at least two international students are among the 16 residents displaced by the fire that kept crews working into the afternoon. 

"I know the friends, they are living here. We make a community with each other and help each other," said friend and Saint Mary's University student Badal Albalawi.

One is Sudanese; one is Saudi Arabian. They are both Winona State students starting over after losing everything. Because of one quick-thinking third roommate, who is not an international student, they all got out safely. 

"There was a third roommate, who was awake at that time and he smelled the smoke, so he started knocking on the others doors," said a witness to the fire, Fahad Aldossari. 

But everything they own, from computers and clothing to passports, citizenship documents and any form of ID, are now part of the rubble on Center Street. 

The place where the community would gather for holidays and weekly Friday prayer is also gone. 

 The Islamic Center was donated about twenty years ago and is owned by the Winona Muslim community.

 For international students the Islamic Center was a home away from home. 

"When I came here, I don't know anyone. So the Muslim guys, they met me, and they told me about the mosque," Albalawi said. 

 "This allowed us to to bring most of the international Muslim students and help each other," Aldossari added.

 Now, the faith is tested for a community sticking together, through tough times.

"We're not sure where we're gonna go, but hopefully we find a place and figure out what we're going to do," Aldossari said.

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