Owatonna Muslim center target of attacks

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Officials at Owatonna’s Muslim Society Center say they are struggling to understand why they have recently been targeted by vandals, the Owatonna People's Press reported.

A window was broken at the center early Saturday morning, the third time this year a window has been damaged, the newspaper reported.

Abdulkadir Sharifali, a center leader, said the building could be a target because it is a worship center for followers of Islam. But center leaders say they want people to understand that the center is a place of peace.

“We are members of the Owatonna community,” center leader Ali Farah told the newspaper through an interpreter.

Center officials say the vandals likely know the layout of the building and are moving security cameras so that there is no surveillance footage of them in the act. Police have no leads, the People's Press reported.

“These are bad people. We are a peaceful community,” Farah said. “We’ve never harmed anybody. This is a worship place. This is the place we use for our culture. Anyone who wants to know that is welcome all the time.”

U.S. mosques have increased security in the wake of attacks, NBC News reported in a story last year. There were a spate of attacks on mosques, Islamic centers and churches last year after the deadly August attack at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis., the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee reported.The ACLU has a map that tracks anti-mosque activities.

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