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Police investigate after bacon is left at Rochester mosque

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Rochester police are investigating an incident at a mosque over the weekend as a crime of bias.

Bacon was found Saturday in the parking lot and on the doorstep of the Masjid AbuBakr Al-Seddiq Islamic Center in downtown Rochester. Islam prohibits Muslims from eating pork.

Muhamad Elrashidi, who attends the mosque, said leaving bacon at his place of worship was a hurtful gesture. But he was comforted by a quickly organized vigil in support of the mosque Sunday morning.

"What I look to is the outpouring of support and solidarity that we saw over the weekend from people of all backgrounds," Elrashidi said.

In a Facebook post circulated among the Rochester community, Elrashidi used humor to dissect his feelings about the incident, writing that, "It's not like pork is kryptonite to us and our Muslim super powers are diminished."

"If you want to put something around the mosque that would be super offensive to us, we are like totally offended by boxes of finely made pastries, sheet cake or Tom Thumb mini donuts — that'll really mess with us," he wrote.

Bias crimes include offenses that target people because of their religion.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said his group has seen an uptick in pork products being used as a tool to harass people of the Islamic faith. Last summer, a Willmar man set a pig's foot near a group of Somali-Americans selling goods at a farmers market.

Hussein's group has reported the Rochester incident to the FBI.

So far, Rochester police say they've have had no luck finding suspects because some cameras around the mosque were not functioning at the time of the incident.

Law enforcement say they will monitor the area around the mosque with extra patrols.