Minnesota’s interfaith community is standing in solidarity with a Rochester mosque after reports that the Islamic center was vandalized with bacon over the weekend.
Nearly 80 people gathered outside the Masjid AbuBakr Al-Seddiq Islamic Center early Sunday with handmade signs rally around their Muslim neighbors, the Post Bulletin reports. Another show of support was held later that afternoon.
On Saturday, a mosque official said, members found strips of bacon by the center’s front door and in its parking lot. Islam generally prohibits Muslims from eating pork.
Dee Sabol, the executive director of the Diversity Council in Rochester, which helped organize the morning vigil, said she believes it was important to show up for the Muslim community.
“I think when these small, petty things happen in our community, it’s easy to say, ‘What’s the big deal?’” she told the Post Bulletin. “But all of these things that push people to the outside, they hurt us as a community.”
Rochester police are investigating but have found few leads, Lt. Mike Sadauskis told HuffPost. The incident is being investigated as a crime of bias, he said, since the state does not have a hate-crime law.
The Minnesota branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on federal law enforcement to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.
“As with a number of similar attempted acts of religious desecration nationwide, the use of pork products to target an Islamic institution is a clear indicator of a bias motive and should be investigated as a possible hate crime,” said Minnesota CAIR leader Jaylani Hussein.
Regina Mustafa, a southern Minnesota coordinator for CAIR, wrote on Twitter that she “cannot even begin to express my gratitude” to the people who went out to support the Muslim community on Sunday.
She pointed out that the alleged vandals missed out on an opportunity to use the bacon more wisely.
Anti-Muslim culprits have used pork products to vandalize Islamic centers and intimidate Muslim communities around the country. Strips of bacon ― and even entire pig heads ― have been dumped outside mosques in Florida, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
Last August, a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, was damaged by a pipe bomb. No one was hurt in the attack. Prosecutors said the three men charged with the crime intended to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. The suspects are facing federal civil rights and hate crime violations, among other charges.
This article has been updated with comment from