The mayor of Maplewood, the chief of police and the President of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota stood united Friday after a community mosque was vandalized last week.
“As mayor, I am here today to say acts of intimidation, fear mongering and violence will not be tolerated in Maplewood,” said Mayor Nora Slawik.
The group pleaded for the suspects who defaced Alsalam Mosque to turn themselves in.
“We consider it the work of misguided individuals who do not know what this land is, or what this land calls for,” said Amin Kader, the President of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota.
July 29, around 1:30 a.m., two suspects were seen on surveillance video spray painting offensive words and images on the place of worship.
Among the profane and anti-Muslim graffiti, the duo scrawled the numbers “666”, and “Jesus Saves” written with a cross.
“Part of the graffiti says ‘Jesus Saves’ and those people would be shocked that we actually believe in that,” said Kader. “As Muslims we do.”
“We take this appalling act of vandalism against them as an affront to all of us,” said Slawik. “This vile language and these images have no place in a decent society and they’re especially offensive plastered on a place of worship.”
Identifying the two behind the vandalism is a top priority for authorities.
“The vandalism of this mosque is not just an offense for those who worship there but an attack on our entire community,” said Maplewood Police Chief Scott Nadeau.
Despite calls for police to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime, speaking from a space of forgiveness, mosque leaders say that they don’t believe the incident was motivated by hate.
“Come forward, own what you have done, know that you hurt people, apologize, clean the mess, and we’ll intercede with the police department to drop the charges,” said Kader.