Another attack on a St. Cloud mosque prompts a call to protect Muslim worshipers

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Islamic leaders in St. Cloud have called on police to provide better protection to Muslim worshipers after the fourth attack on a local mosque in the last month.

A window was smashed at the Central Minnesota Islamic Center on Fourth Avenue South Monday night, the St. Cloud Times reports, which follows three similar incidents in recent weeks.

It has led to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) to call for enhanced police protection for those attending mosques for worship, the newspaper reports.

"No American should be made to feel fear when taking part in worship services," said CAIR-MN executive director Lori Saroya said in a statement. "We urge local law enforcement authorities to step up protection for St. Cloud mosques until the perpetrators of these attacks are caught and punished."

Center spokesman Mohamoud Mohamed told KSTP the incidents are unnerving worshipers, saying: "We are struggling with it. We need to have a peaceful worship site where we can exercise and practice our faith."

The Star Tribune reports Monday's vandalism was particularly worrying for the center because something heavy was used to break the window.

Two people were inside at the time, the newspaper notes, but they were unhurt as they were on the other side of the building.

Previous incidents have also included cars parked outside the Islamic Center of St. Cloud mosque (pictured above, on Fifth Avenue South) being vandalized.

Call for federal involvement

Earlier this month, CAIR-MN urged federal law enforcement authorities to investigate the incidents at the two faith centers as hate crimes, the St. Cloud Times said.

Police chief Blair Anderson told the newspaper there is currently no proof the incidents are connected, but also doesn't think they are a coincidence, and said police have stepped up their presence in the area recently.

CAIR-MN also asked the FBI to investigate an anti-Islam message that was painted on a driveway in a neighborhood in St. Paul last month, as reported by WCCO.

On Tuesday, the U.S Attorney's office reached a settlement to allow the opening of an Islamic prayer and meeting center in the Twin Cities suburb of St. Anthony, after it had overturned a decision by St. Anthony City Council to reject a proposal from Abu-Haraira on the basis that it would be located in a light-industrial area of the suburb.

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