CAIR asks FBI to investigate St. Cloud anti-Somali vandalism

Removing graffiti
Hormud Meat and Grocery owner Hared Jibril removes red spray-painted graffiti that reads " Go Home" from the front of his store in St. Cloud, Minn., Thursday, July 8, 2010.
Dave Scwarz/St. Cloud Times via the AP

A Muslim civil rights group is asking the FBI to investigate Thursday's vandalism at a Somali-owned grocery store in St. Cloud.

The store owner told police someone spray-painted "Go Home" on the wall of his business. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, wants the FBI to help St. Cloud police with the investigation.

CAIR President Lori Saroya said she worries this incident will escalate and wants authorities to treat this as a hate crime.

"I think this one is clearly ... not freedom of expression," she said. "It's intimidation. It's harassment. Writing "Go Home" on somebody's business clearly is sending the message that you're not welcome here and there is racial and religious bigotry involved here."

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Saroya said this is one of many recent incidents in St. Cloud on her organization's radar.

"Everything from the cartoons to the man who made threats on Craigslist, the anti-Islam newspaper advertisement, the Department of Education investigation, so there's these major cases that we've been working on all year that have come from St. Cloud," she said.

Saroya said the FBI's civil rights unit investigates hates crimes. An FBI spokesman said the office will decide quickly whether to open an investigation into the incident, or to refer it to a local agency or state department.

A lieutenant with the St. Cloud Police Department says the vandalism occurred between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday. St. Cloud police say they have no suspects in the case.