Two men are being sought in connection with an arson fire at a south Minneapolis mosque early Thursday that a City Council member labeled a hate crime.

The blaze at the Abuubakar As- Sadique Islamic Center also has caught the attention of the FBI and two Islamic civil-rights groups, which are calling for the federal agency’s assistance.

“There’s no doubt this was clearly a hate crime,” Council Member Gary Schiff, whose ward includes the mosque, said Friday outside the center. “It was a very deliberate offense.”

Minneapolis police Sgt. Sean McKenna said the fire at 2834 13th Av. S. apparently started about 5:30 a.m. More than two hours earlier, police think, someone pried open a bathroom window.

McKenna said burglary or a bias crime could be motives.

The fire damaged dozens of religious books, including copies of the Qur’an. . .

This is the third reported arson fire at a mosque in the Twin Cities area in the past seven years, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman with the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group from Washington.

He said that a fire damaged a storage shed at a mosque in Columbia Heights in 2004 and that arsonists destroyed the Islamic Cultural Community Center in northeast Minneapolis in 1999.

In a statement Friday, Hooper urged authorities in this latest case to find the “perpetrators and determine whether or not this incident was motivated by anti-Muslim bias.”


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