COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. – Local Muslim leaders said they were concerned
about recent vandalism at area Islamic centers.

The vandalism began last month when paintballs splattered the Islamic
Center of Minnesota in Fridley.

“Muslims are under attack in Minnesota,” said Hamdy El-Sawaf, the Islamic
Center’s executive director. “We are shocked and disappointed. This is
something very unusual.”

“We haven’t seen such hate crimes even after 9/11,” he added.

El-Sawaf said he and center members find the events troubling. “We are
afraid something more serious could happen here,” he said. “We have no
explanation or idea of what is going on in the minds of people attacking us.”

The day after the incident in Fridley, some people reportedly entered a
mosque in Columbia Heights as night prayer was about to start and threw a
bottle of rotten eggs at worshippers.

Over the weekend, fire damaged a storage shed at the mosque.

Muslim leaders were asking this week for increased police patrols.

Worshippers said the security of Muslims who attend Friday services in
Columbia Heights are at stake – especially as the holy month of Ramadan


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