Governor visits Twin Cities mosque damaged during break-in last week


Days after a Minnesota mosque was broken into and vandalized, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton condemned the action during a visit to the religious center.

Someone smashed doors and windows at the Umatul Islam Center in Minneapolis Wednesday night, also making off with equipment and files – damage that totals about $5,000, according to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).

The group said afterward the Muslim community is worried about what might have motivated the incident.

On Sunday, Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited the Umatul Islam Center, with the governor calling the crime "unMinnesotan" and "unAmerican," according to MPR.

Dayton was one of the few dozen state leaders and elected officials who signed a full-page ad published in the Star Tribune, which said they “know better than to be silent or still in the face of bigotry toward Muslims. Our fellow Minnesotans.”

The ad also encouraged people to use #UnMinnesotan to discuss the issue on social media.

People who work at the mosque told CAIR surveillance video the night of the crime shows a white male, who appears to be in his 50s. It's the second time this month someone has targeted a mosque, according to the council.

The Star Tribune says police are investigating.

The mosque posted photos of Dayton's visit on Facebook as well.

Muslims in Minnesota and the US

According to PEW Research Center there are about 3.3 million Muslims living in the US, a number that is likely to double by 2050. A study by the group found Muslims are one of the most negatively viewed religious groups in the U.S.

There has been a string of recent incidents and cases around the state, including a former school board member resigning over comments he made on Facebook directed at Muslims, a license plate that reads "FSMUSLMS" (which Dayton and other state officials also condemned), and debates over mosque and Islamic cemetery proposals.

Meanwhile the Twin Cities Somali community has been concerned over the allure the Islamic State militant group has had on young men – including those from Minnesota – who have left the U.S. to fight.

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