CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - New murals symbolizing peace have transformed the Cape Girardeau Islamic Center that was heavily damaged by arson.
On Friday, April 24, a fire ripped through the building as people living inside were preparing for the holy celebration of Ramadan.
Artists Christy Moore and Craig Thomas donated their time and skill to painting the boarded-up entrance of the building.
“We turned something that was just devastating into something beautiful to look at,” Moore said.
“We all try to do things positive in our own way," Thomas said.
Moore lives down the street from the Islamic Center. She said the fire broke her heart.
“It was a blow to our neighborhood, the day it happened on that Friday, we had our windows open and we could smell it," Moore explained.
She reached out to the Islamic Center in hopes of doing something to show her support.
“I just wanted to do something," Moore said. "I teach so I don’t have millions of dollars to give out but I’m an art teacher and I can paint.”
Umar Aziz said her offer came at a perfect time.
“After the fire everything was looking so bleak and ugly," Aziz said.
Moore and Thomas worked together to create paintings that depict three doves and the Arabic phrase “peace be upon you.”
Aziz explained this phrase is one they use frequently to greet others.
Moore hopes the murals send a message that the community stands as one.
“Hopefully this is kind of a message that you know if you choose to do something out of hate the community is going to come up and make something better out of it.”
Aziz said out of the ashes they’ve been able to form special bonds with people who were strangers before the fire, like Moore and Thomas.
“We would like to thank them on behalf of the Islamic Center and we have made some new friends," Aziz said.
Members of the Islamic Center said they are grateful for all of the support they’ve received.
“The community has been wonderful," Aziz said. "I mean it was really overwhelming support for us, I mean that lifted our spirits.”
Members of the Islamic Center plan to rebuild after the fire.
Aziz said they are in talks with an architect to decide whether they will demolish the current building and rebuild in the same spot or move locations completely.
They hope to have some more answers in the coming weeks.