A man arrested on federal charges of setting a mosque in St. Paul in Minnesota on fire considered doing the same to other houses of worship and even the Mall of America, reports Fox9.
Said Murekezi, 42, reportedly is Muslim and told authorities he set his fire out of protests on because “other Muslims in the community were having to sleep outside in the cold.”
According to court documents, “He said that the building is not serving anyone, but the people need it,” Murekezi stated it was a good thing he was caught, because if he was not caught, he would ‘torch another one’ or ‘a church.’ “
Prosecutors say they have no evidence connecting this to a bias or hate crime.
“We welcome any arrest in this situation because our community [learned] from the previous incidents that we really need to act quickly to make sure that the suspect in this case is not going to other mosques,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reported the Star Tribune.
Murekezi said he broke into the building and spent the night while looking for stuff to burn. He made sure no one else was inside and described what he did as “fun.”
He is said to have a criminal history, including convictions for an arson fire at the Dorothy Day Center in August 2020. He has also pled guilty to breaking a restaurant window and to drug possession in two separate incidents.
Then just this past Friday, prosecutors charged him with breaking a glass door to enter a Catholic school and sleeping inside.
The fire at the mosque is the sixth fire at a Muslim house of worship this year.
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