Owatonna mosque targeted by vandals - Owatonna MN: News

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Owatonna mosque targeted by vandals

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Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 5:00 pm | Updated: 7:41 pm, Tue Jun 4, 2013.

OWATONNA — Officials at Owatonna’s Muslim Society Center are looking for answers after a window was broken at their location on 12th Street Northeast.

Center officials say that its the second time in two weeks and third time in a year that a window has been broken at the facility. The most recent damage was done about 1 a.m. Saturday.

Ali Farah, one of the leaders at the mosque, said they don’t understand why they’re being targeted.

“We are members of the Owatonna community, and our building has been attacked three times,” Farah said, speaking through an interpreter, Olad Ahmed. “We have been attacked two times in the last month.”

After having a window broken in October last year, which was not reported to the police, no further vandalism occurred until May 17, when a window was broken again. Two weeks later — last Saturday — another window was broken.

“People are wondering why our building is being vandalized. This is a worship place,” Ahmed said.

The building is monitored by security cameras, but Ahmed said whoever is breaking the windows knows the layout of the building and is moving the cameras in order to obscure the acts.

On Tuesday, glass still littered the floor of the room the window looked into. The leaders believe the same person or group is doing the damage.

“We don’t know what we’re doing wrong. We’re not bothering anyone,” said Abdulkadir Sharifali, another one of the mosque leaders.

The Owatonna Police Department has no leads in the case, said Capt. Eric Rethemeier, who noted that many property damage crimes can’t be cleared by police because often there aren’t any witnesses to the crimes.

Last year, of the 206 property damage cases in the city handled by OPD, only 18 percent were cleared. The city has seen 33 cases so far this year. Rethemeier encouraged people to follow the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which focuses on stopping acts of domestic terrorism, but can also be useful to local law enforcement in cases of vandalism, property damage or any other suspicious crime.

Sharifali said he feels like the building could be being targeted because it is a worship center for followers of Islam in Owatonna.

“I’ve never heard of any church being targeted in Owatonna,” Sharifali said. “I’ve lived in Owatonna since 2000, and I’ve never heard of anything like that in the news or anywhere else. I don’t know why we’re being targeted. I don’t know if it’s because we’re a worship place for Islam or what.”

Sharifali said they don’t yet know how much it will cost to repair the damage that has been caused by the vandals, as they are still waiting on an estimate from their insurance company. They are expecting their insurance premiums to go up.

Ahmed, who has lived in Owatonna since 1997, said members of the mosque don’t know why their place of worship is being targeted. Though no one was present when the vandalism took place, Farah said many are living in fear for what could happen next.

“It’s really scary. We are fearing for our lives,” Farah said. “We don’t know what could happen next. Our people and our children pray here all the time.”

The group’s message to those who are causing the damage is simple — please stop. They’re encouraging anyone in the community with information to come forward and share that information.

“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.”

Reach reporter Al Strain at 444-2376 or follow him on Twitter.com@OPPalstrain

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  • isd761momof3 posted at 12:16 pm on Sun, Jun 9, 2013.

    isd761momof3 Posts: 30

    Yes, the interpreter is the issue here. Geez! I'm not making any conclusions on this either. It's vandalism and cannot be considered anything more until someone is caught and their purpose found out. There is no spray painted messages or anything so I don't know that it is anything more that vandalism or even if it's all being done by the same person.

  • oli posted at 5:45 pm on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    oli Posts: 143

    Ali Farah, one of the leaders at the mosque, said they don’t understand why they’re being targeted. Also went on to say ..We are members of the Owatonna community, and our building has been attacked three times,” Farah said, speaking through an interpreter, Olad Ahmed. If he is such a big part of teh mosque and a great member of Owatonna community, then WHY would an interpreter be needed???????????????

  • WMantooth posted at 5:12 pm on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    WMantooth Posts: 116

    I would bet a venti Starbucks that this is a Shiite vs. Sunni situation, rather than Christian vs. Mulsim.

  • offleash posted at 8:39 am on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    offleash Posts: 666

    Because most religious nuts are too stupid to comprehend what they have been told.

    The Bible could say "Be Kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's mother," and idiots would stop kicking ducks but keep slapping geese.

  • Special Ed posted at 6:50 am on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    Special Ed Posts: 1115

    Well, since the Faribault paper can't seem to open the comments on their article about the Muslim community and the city working out a CUP for a Mosque there (http://www.southernminn.com/faribault_daily_news/opinion/editorials/article_9ab69f17-a6a6-5ac2-9222-be6d668f6816.html#user-comment-area), I may as well make my comments here on a related topic:
    Get off the whole racial, conspiracy train.
    This story is about a series of broken windows. Probably the same person. Even if it is racially motivated, it's small potatoes.
    Same with the Faribault Mosque story. The city is responsible for making sure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed. Stop your posturing and get over your self righteous selves Faribault Daily News. That area is so weird from a use standpoint throwing a church/mosque or whatever in the middle of it just makes it even more screwed up.
    There is a church located on 4th ave nw and 6th street nw that would be far more appropriate and it's for sale. I think having a place of worship at on of the worst intersections in the city is incredibly stupid. They will have the license bureau on the east, two run down houses on the west and a farm implement manufacturer on the south. Across the street, a vacant lot and a row of little houses. Not exactly the perfect location but it's a free country.
    If the board raises any questions, you're right, it's obviously a racist conspiracy.
    Holy sh#$ people, get over it.

  • Iheardthat posted at 11:59 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    Iheardthat Posts: 199

    Really "Texas", nothing better to offer up to the discussion than being the spell check police??

    You still clearly, understood my point I made, excuse me for my typo...hope you were still able to sleep alright tonight??

  • DFairbanks posted at 10:52 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    DFairbanks Posts: 203

    When we talk about radical muslims it made me think of Queen Elizabeth beheading Mary, Queen of Scots, merely because she was Catholic. We have been fighting over religion for thousands of years. We just have a new target.

    Why is it that all religions, regardless of their faith, cannot preach the same love and tolerance that Jesus brought to us 2000 years ago.

  • Texas posted at 9:36 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    Texas Posts: 2

    No ir in regardless

  • Iheardthat posted at 6:27 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    Iheardthat Posts: 199

    Vandalism is a cowardly act irregardless of the who, what and why's involved.

    Perhaps though, if, the Muslim religion wasn't so radical, they wouldn't invoke such negative responses and retaliations versus, having an open dialogue with other's, you know, practice diversity and equality within society instead of having such a "Muslim way or the highway" arrogant attitude and beliefs system.

    I hope those who did this cowardly act of vandalism are apprehended and brought to justice as again, vandalism or other such acts of violence serve no purpose nor any means to an end other than, having a criminal record for displays of immaturity.

  • Red_Chip posted at 5:24 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    Red_Chip Posts: 168

    You just can't fix stupid. That's why morons like this will get caught, they're stupid.

  • MPD1212 posted at 4:36 pm on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    MPD1212 Posts: 15

    Congratulations on the ignorant comment. Flaming the fire without even knowing who did it. People, whatever their views, who commit stupid crimes are just simply that - Stupid. As with All crimes, I hope they catch those responsible. It may take some time but as we have seen before - Local law enforcement's investigations pay off. Albin.

  • FatBroad posted at 11:01 am on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    FatBroad Posts: 296

    I'll wait until the person is caught before I reach a conclusion on their motives, whether or not they are Christians or a "strain."
    It's not uncommon for schools to have windows broken regularly and this could either be drunks (time frame) or kids all wound up for summer.
    I seriously question the statement that people need to fear for their lives, a bit of an over reaction in my opinion. How is it possible to determine why someone did something when we do not even know who they are? Clairvoyance? My guess is that it's the same people/person and that it's a convenient target for them, nothing more.
    Even if it is racially motivated, it's not as though a battalion of Klansmen is riding the streets of Owatonna on horseback each night. A misdemeanor, treat it as such. A great punishment would be to have the person paint the mosque, mow the lawn and stuff like that all summer so the public can drive by and wave at them. Hope you catch them OPD!

  • Albin posted at 10:22 am on Wed, Jun 5, 2013.

    Albin Posts: 40

    I'm not surprised this is happening, unfortunately, because there is a strain of people in Owatonna that call themselves "Christians" but in reality they are nothing but a bunch of bigots who hate anyone different than themselves. I hope they knock this crap off and leave these poor people alone, they have been through enough.


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