St. Paul mosque fire believed to be arson, community leaders 'disgusted'

Authorities believe arson is the cause of a fire at the Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center in St. Paul.

According to authorities, the building at 430 Dale St. N, was not occupied at the time of the fire, which started around 8:45 a.m. No injuries were reported.

Investigators are currently working with the St. Paul Police Department to determine a suspect. State Fire Marshal and ATF officials are also part of the investigation.

"We take this very seriously and will determine who’s responsible for this, and hold them responsible," said St. Paul Police Department Deputy Chief Josh Lego during a press conference Wednesday morning.

The building was currently undergoing a four-month renovation, which was almost complete at the time of the fire.

"We’ve said it before, and I hate to say it again – we do not tolerate attacks against our community. Communities of faith were attacked today," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter during the press conference. "We all stand together. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us."

Carter said increased patrols around St. Paul mosques will occur as a result of this, and other recent mosque fires.

"This feels like a different version of America that should be taking place at a different chapter in history. And yet here we are once again … Whoever committed this crime, you will be caught," Carter said.

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Carter and community leaders say they will increase the state of readiness to prevent attacks from occurring again.

"This is one of the most serious attacks against a mosque to date in the state of Minnesota. We’re going to make sure our mosques and law enforcement work together, so there are not repeated attacks," said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). Hussein noted this is the sixth mosque attack in Minnesota since 2023. "We will rebuild and continue to practice our faith without fear."

"We can not allow anyone to be terrorized for exercising their right to worship. We will stand by our neighbors," said Frenchye Magee, associate pastor at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church. "We are one St. Paul, and we stand together."

There have been several mosque fires either suspected as arson, or having been charged as such throughout the Twin Cities in recent months. In April, a man was suspected of setting fire to two mosques in South Minneapolis while there were people worshiping inside. He has since been taken into federal custody.