‘Residing in Worry’: Arson Is the Newest in a String of Assaults on Minnesota Mosques

‘Residing in Worry’: Arson Is the Newest in a String of Assaults on Minnesota Mosques

A suspect was arrested on suspicion of arson after a hearth final week at a mosque in St. Paul, Minn., at the very least the fifth such act of vandalism within the state to date this 12 months that has left members of the Muslim group “dwelling in worry,” a state senator mentioned.

Jaylani Hussein, the chief director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, mentioned at a information convention that the mosque, the Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center, was left “fully burned” after being set on fireplace on Wednesday.

The constructing was unoccupied on the time and no accidents have been reported, the St. Paul Fire Department said.

The suspect, Said Murekezi, 42, was arrested on Thursday and booked on suspicion of arson, the St. Paul Police Department mentioned.

Mr. Murekezi, who informed the police he’s Muslim, mentioned he was protesting homelessness, in response to charging paperwork. Mr. Murekezi informed the police that if he hadn’t been caught, he would “torch one other one” or assault a church, the paperwork mentioned.

The assault comes after a spate of different acts of vandalism towards Islamic homes of worship in Minnesota.

The Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center additionally had a window smashed three weeks in the past, the paperwork mentioned. On May 12, one other mosque in St. Paul was vandalized when somebody smashed its doorways, Mr. Hussein mentioned. No one has been charged in both of those circumstances.

In April, Jackie Rahm Little was charged with arson after setting fireplace to 2 totally different mosques in Minneapolis. In one case, he was interrupted within the act, in response to court docket paperwork. In the opposite, a mosque consultant informed investigators that the hearth brought about tens of 1000’s of {dollars} of harm.

The state senator, Zaynab Mohamed, mentioned on Sunday that the Muslim group in Minneapolis was feeling “shaken by these assaults.”

“Especially the individuals who go to those mosques regularly, they’re dwelling in worry proper now,” she mentioned. “These assaults aren’t new. They’ve been occurring for a very long time. But this 12 months they’re occurring extra typically, and so they’re extra damaging.”

Hate crimes within the United States elevated practically 12 p.c in 2021 in contrast with 2020, in response to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But that knowledge is incomplete, and consultants say that the figures are more likely to be underestimates.

Of the 1,590 hate crimes associated to faith that have been reported, virtually 10 p.c have been anti-Islamic, the bureau said.

Mr. Hussein mentioned in an interview on Sunday that he believed among the vandalism to be copycat acts and that many mosques have been struggling financially to forestall assaults, noting that the Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center didn’t have safety cameras.

“Our group is feeling susceptible,” Mr. Hussein mentioned. “We are under-resourced and below assault.”

Amanda Holpuch contributed reporting.

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