A burglary this week at a Minneapolis Islamic center prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to issue a statement of concern Friday.
Jaylani Hussein, director of CAIR-MN, said surveillance video captured images of a man breaking into the Umatul Islam Center on Lake Street and 2nd Avenue S. between 11 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.
Yassin, a member of Umatul Islam’s Executive Board who did not want to be identified by his full name out of fear for his safety, described the damage.
The burglar used a hammer to break in through the glass entrance to Global Health Link, a community resource in the center, he said. All three offices in the Global Health Link area were broken into, leaving big holes under the handles for easy entry.
In the center’s school area, where children come for religious instruction on the weekend, a window was broken and computer equipment was stolen, Yassin said.
“My kids are here the weekend,” said Ali Maxy, seeing the broken glass for the first time after Friday prayers. “It’s not safe here.”
Hussein said that repairs will cost more than $5,000.
“This is not a small break-in,” he said. “It seems that this is not simple theft.”
He said the break-in is the first major incident involving a mosque in the Twin Cities since comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched off a wave of anti-Muslim commentary and some incidents of harassment nationwide. Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings in December.
“We don’t know what the motive is, but obviously we’re concerned with what’s been happening across the United States,” Hussein said.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said the department will continue to provide extra patrols in the area. “This remains a very active investigation,” he said.
The burglar’s description matched that of a man who broke an outside camera at the mosque a month ago.
Down the hall from the center, Zaheeda Clothing, where many women from the mosque shop, also was burglarized.
Shantie Ali has worked at the shop, which is owned by her daughter, for more than a decade.
“He stole all my stuff,” Ali said. “The guy just went crazy with a hammer, and then he dropped the hammer here, leaving fingerprints.”
Ali said she lost several boxes of inventory she had recently brought back to the United States from India, some jewelry that was easily accessible on the counter and $150 in cash. She said she will have to go back to India to replace what was stolen.
Yassin said the Umatul Islam community hopes an arrest comes soon.
“If you had this damage, what do you expect? Anything is possible, because people are not feeling safe,” he said.
Minneapolis police have asked that anyone with information contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Staff writer Beatrice Dupuy contributed to this report.
Zoe Peterson is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.