(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 6/5/13) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic RelationsÂ (CAIR-MN) todayÂ called on state and national law enforcement authorities to investigate repeated vandalism targeting a mosque in that state as a possibleÂ bias-motivatedÂ crime.
Officials with the Muslim Society Center in Owatonna, Minn., contacted CAIR-MN after a window of the facility was broken early Saturday. Mosque leaders say it does not appear that an object was thrown at the window, but rather that someone approached the mosque and broke it using a bat or other object.Â It is the second time in two weeks and the third time in a year that a window has been broken at the mosque.
“The repeated nature of this vandalism seems to indicate that the vandalism is targeted rather than random,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “Any such attacks on a house of worship must be investigated with the possibility of a bias motive in mind.”
SEE: Owatonna Mosque Targeted by Vandals (Owatonna People's Press)
Mosque leaders say the mosque has faced opposition since it opened and that some in the community have been hostile to the group's presence. CAIR-MN has provided mosque leaders with safety tips and will be presenting a community safety training at the mosque.
Saroya noted that the Owatonna vandalism comes in an atmosphere of growing Islamophobia nationwide. She cited an event last night in Tennessee in which a U.S. attorney and and FBI official were heckled by a crowd shouting anti-Muslim slurs such as “Islam is evil.”
The U.S. attorney was called a “traitor” and “serpent” for speaking out against hate crimes targeting Muslims. Other hecklers shouted “communist,” “socialist” and “Muslim”Â at the officials and promoted the manufactured claim that “sharia,” or Islamic principles, is being imposed in America.
SEE: Muslim Group's TN Forum with Feds Disrupted by Heckling (Video)
TN: Anti-Muslim Crowd Lashes Out at U.S. Attorney
Video: Anti-Muslim Crowd Heckles Federal Officials in Tenn.
CAIR-St. Louis: Missouri Governor Vetoes Anti-Shariah BillÂ (RNS)
Earlier this week, CAIR made a similar call for a hate crime investigation after some two dozen paintballs were fired at a Texas mosque.
Last week, CAIR urged a similar hate crime probe of vandalism targeting a Georgia mosque.
CAIR recently began distributing new safety and security guidelines to mosques and other Islamic institutions nationwide.
The new CAIR publication, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” was produced in response to recent bias attacks, including a series of incidents last year targeting American Muslim institutions.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com