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Minneapolis Mosque burns for the second time in one year

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[image 1] Source: Google Street View, 2021

The Muslim American community in Minneapolis is uneasy after a mosque that fell victim to an arson attack earlier this year burned again, but police say the fire doesn’t appear suspicious or to have been motivated by hate.

As CBS News reported, the Wednesday fire at the Masjid al-Rahma (also referred to as the Mercy Islamic Center) destroyed three garages and damaged a neighboring residential building also owned by the mosque, causing over $100,000 of damage. Thankfully, nobody was injured.

One Muslim American who attends prayers at the mosque, Aweis Hassan, feels that “Looking at this, I’m like wow, it also makes me feel unsafe.” To have a second fire in one year is disheartening, and “It makes me feel like there’s some hatred going on,” he told CBS News.

Back in April, a fire was set on the mosque’s third floor. Investigators accused Jackie Rahm Little of setting the fire, as well as ties to the fire that destroyed another mosque in the Somali Mall.

According to court documents, Little is also accused of vandalizing Rep. Illhan Omar’s office and a police car, having harassed a Muslim woman, domestic violence, and other crimes.

Minneapolis police are still investigating the cause of the latest fire, and haven’t ruled out bias-motivated arson for good.

In response to requests from the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations to investigate whether bias may have motivated someone to set the fire, Minneapolis police said bias seems an unlikely motive, given the evidence so far. Police haven’t indicated whether they believe the fire is intentional.

The Council of American Islamic Relations Executive Director Jaylani Hussein told CBS News, “We have seen these burnings now in Minnesota, just this year we’ve seen seven incidents.”

According to Muslim American residents and organizers, Minneapolis has been beset by a series of mosque fires and severe vandalism, some of which have been linked to arson. There were nine incidents last year.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR in Minnesota told the Sahan Journal that he’s especially concerned about the fire potentially being an Islamophobic incident in the tense political context of the recent attacks by Hamas on Israel and Israel’s retaliatory blockade and attacks on Gaza.

Biden visited Minnesota on Wednesday, the same day as the fire, and it burned while some Muslim Americans associated with the mosque joined protests against Biden’s unconditional support for Israel.

“If this happened outside of the vacuum, we’d still be concerned but perhaps not as concerned when this happened on a day that the state had a visit from the president,” Jaylani said.

Jaylani also hopes the community can donate to help cover some of the cost of the damage, especially as the center is already paying for the damage from the previous fire.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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