Minnesota faith leaders gather in St. Cloud to decry recent break-ins at mosques

A mosque in St. Cloud
The Islamic Center of St. Cloud was the target of a break-in on Sept. 8. St. Cloud police said the intruders broke a door to get in, then caused additional damage inside. Two people have been arrested. Mosque leaders say the incident has caused fear in the community.
Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota

Faith leaders from St. Cloud and elsewhere in Minnesota gathered Thursday to show solidarity in the wake of vandalism at a mosque one week ago.

Two people have been charged with burglary for allegedly breaking into the Islamic Center of St. Cloud and causing damage. Mosque officials on Thursday estimated that damage at $15,000 to $20,000.

The incident was the fifth time this year a Minnesota mosque has been targeted.

Jaylani Hussein is executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which hosted the event Thursday and livestreamed it on Facebook. He said his group in the past year has helped 17 mosques in Minnesota access federal grants to improve security.

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“We know that that's one way we can make sure that our mosques are secure, that they have the proper equipment that they have the proper training and resources to make sure we can prevent these incidents as much as possible,” Hussein said.

In addition to the break-in and vandalism at the Islamic Center of St. Cloud, last week Tawfiq Islamic Center in Minneapolis was targeted by a man who broke in and caused more than $50,000 in damage.

glass door in mosque is shattered
A door to one of the offices in the Tawfiq Islamic Center is shattered after a suspect allegedly broke into the mosque.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

Among those who spoke at the Islamic Center was the Reverend Dee Pederson, who is bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“When a holy place is violated like this, it is not only heartbreaking, it is something we have to stand against. I remember when our church building was broken into and things were damaged, and you just feel so violated. And so we have to stand together against this.”

Pederson previously served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud — which, she noted Thursday, used to be housed in the same building that the Islamic Center now calls home.

"When our holy places are violated, we all have to come together," Pederson said.

Muhayadin Mohamed, president of the Islamic Center of St. Cloud, expressed appreciation for those who spoke and showed solidarity at the mosque on Thursday.

"We just want to be clear that wherever you come from, you'll not deter us to come to the mosque, and ... it doesn't represent the good people in the St. Cloud area," Mohamed said.

"We believe that love is going to overcome the hate.”