Two mosques in Minneapolis were targeted by an arsonist who set them on fire one after another, raising concerns among the Muslim community who condemned the hate crimes.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz condemned the attacks, voicing support to the Muslim community.
“Here in Minnesota, everyone must be able to practice their faith without fear. To members of our Muslim community – my heart is with you today. We will not tolerate acts of violence toward our friends and neighbors,” he wrote on Twitter.
Here in Minnesota, everyone must be able to practice their faith without fear.
To members of our Muslim community – my heart is with you today. We will not tolerate acts of violence toward our friends and neighbors. https://t.co/SqD6sh0B9A
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) April 25, 2023
The first incident occurred Sunday when congregants at Masjid Omar Islamic Center, a mosque located inside 24 Somali Mall, called police about 7:16 pm for a fire in the mosque’s bathroom, according to Minneapolis police. The congregants put out the fire before it could spread.
The second fire occurred Monday evening at Masjid Al Rahma, located in Mercy Islamic Center building less than one mile from Masjid Omar Islamic Center. The fire at Masjid Al Rahma occurred on the third floor, which houses business offices it leases out.
The fire caused extensive damage in the third floor and second floor hallways that could cost $50,000 to repair.
“When these attacks happen, it’s to our children, and that’s what makes it even more disturbing and personal for me,” said Nimco Ahmed, president of the Somali American Coalition Action Fund, as she held her 3-year-old daughter, Star Tribune reported.
“It’s very sad because this state that we call home is so precious to us.”
Police released security photos of a white male suspect. Yet, no arrests have been made in fires at both mosques.
“We’re very confident that we will be able to bring this person to justice, but in the meantime we cannot afford to have anything else happen, and we want to be able to ensure that all people can be safe,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said at a news conference.
Planning a solidarity event at 6 pm Saturday at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque, speakers at the news conference voiced support for the Muslim community and lamented the rise of Islamophobic attacks.
“We’ve got to do something,” said Minneapolis Council Member Jamal Osman. “Hate cannot win in our state.”
A CAIR report, “Targeted: 2018 Civil Rights Report”, recorded 144 anti-mosque incidents in 2017, of which 57 were hate crimes.
It’s noteworthy that many local communities have always come in support of the Muslim community in many cases.
In 2021, members of the local community in Suffolk county in Brentwood, New York, came together in a show of support to the local mosque which was vandalized last month.
In September 2019, the vandalism of the new welcome sign at the Islamic Centre of Grand Junction, Colorado, prompted community to show support and start crowdfunding to repair the damaged sign.