The FBI is investigating hate messages found vandalized on a mosque that sits on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Police in Moorhead, Minnesota, were dispatched to the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center Mosque early Sunday in response to reports of vandalism. Officers found anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and racist messages spray-painted on several areas outside the buildings. The incident happened during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Muslim civil rights organization Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that officials with the mosque told its Minnesota chapter that vandals spray-painted hate messages such as “Death to Islam,” “Fuck Islam,” “Go to hell,” the N-word and a Nazi swastika on or near the institution, which also had a broken window.
Police released photos on Sunday from the mosque’s building surveillance, showing a suspect wearing a camouflage jacket and dark ski mask. The surveillance shows the suspect at night, implying that the vandalism occurred Saturday night.
UPDATE: Moorhead Police are searching for this man in connection to last night’s hate-crime graffiti. If you have any information, call 701-451-7600 immediately. Both MPD & the FBI are investigating. https://t.co/GJrhOQqevX pic.twitter.com/38hBm4JGWM
— Bailey Hurley (@BaileyHurleyVNL) April 25, 2021
Moorhead police are actively investigating the incident with assistance from the FBI’s Fargo office. Officials from both cities released a statement saying that they are sharing “overwhelming support” for the Muslim congregation, according to The Associated Press.
“Hate will not have a home in Moorhead,” Mayor Shelly Carlson said in the statement. “The words and symbols defacing the Islamic Center are horrifying to view, but we must view them to bear witness and understand the magnitude and depth of how these hate-filled words impact those in our community.”
CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein called on local, state and federal authorities Sunday to investigate the incident as a hate crime, “and to devote all resources necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
"We call on the FBI, law enforcement & elected officials to condemn & investigate this latest hate crime attack targeting the Muslim community in the Moorhead area during the holy month of Ramadan." -Jaylani HusseinDonate to the mosque security fund: https://t.co/ZNm4kRek2F pic.twitter.com/tXVxvZvaJL
— CAIR MN (@CAIRMN) April 26, 2021
“Our state’s lawmakers must also show that they take growing hate crimes seriously by passing legislation to update how hate incidents are reported and handled,” Hussein said.
A Minnesota House committee has moved forward a bill that would update the state’s hate crime statutes to allow community organizations to report hate crimes to the Department of Human Rights, reform police training to respond to hate crimes and treat graffiti containing hateful messages as a hate crime.
The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to appoint a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Muslim hate. The White House did not respond as to whether it would make such a decision, according to USA Today.