They scrubbed the swastika off the sidewalk. They washed the death threats off the walls.

One image from the attack on the Moorhead mosque still lingers for Dr. Ademola Hammed.

A little boy with a scrub brush. One of hundreds of neighbors and strangers who rushed to help after last weekend's attack on the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center.

As volunteers swept up the broken glass and turned power washers on the filth that a vandal had spray-painted on the house of worship, Hammed watched the little boy scrub away at the floor — determined not to let hate speech have the last word.

At that moment, he said, the story changed.

"The story is now the love. It's no longer the hate," said Hammed, vice president of the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Community Center, who watched volunteers drive in from miles away to reach Moorhead, a close-knit college town on the banks of the Red River of the North. "That overshadowed everything. That is love. That is love."

This is the holy month of Ramadan. A time of prayer and fasting, compassion and joy. A time to worship together in peace.

Instead, parents in Fargo and Moorhead are keeping their children away from the mosque — just until the new cameras are installed and new security precautions are in place.

The children have seen the pictures of the damage, the slurs on the walls.

"'Who did this? Why did he do that?'" Hammed remembers the children asking. "They want to know why."

It was a joke, Benjamin Enderle of Moorhead told investigators. He defaced a holy place during a holy month to get a reaction.

Clay County reacted by tossing him in jail and charging him with felony property damage and misdemeanor bias harassment.

The reaction from the community was an outpouring of care, concern and cleaning products. It made Hammed feel as if the hatred was no longer just directed just at the Islamic center or just at him. The community was standing with him, against hate and fear.

"That support is all we want," he said.

If Benjamin Enderle had knocked on the door instead of defacing it, they would have welcomed him in and answered any questions, Hammed said. On Saturday afternoon, the Islamic center will host a community forum, extending the same offer to the whole community.

The scars from the attack that Enderle confessed to still are visible, faded traces of red spray paint that had spelled out a racial slur and 'Death to Islam.' Not gone. Not forgotten.

An online fundraiser — — has raised almost $28,000 to offset the cost of better security measures.

But Hammed won't forget the little boy with the scrub brush or the other volunteers on the cleaning crews. He won't forget the allies who stood with him against the hatred spelled out on the walls.

The Islamic center hopes the community won't forget what happened here either.

Bigotry and hate in American culture run deeper than a coat of red paint. On Saturday afternoon, the Moorhead mosque is hosting a community forum for anyone willing to continue that discussion.

"We are a part of this community," Hammed said. "We are happy. We are safe."

For information about the mosque and the forum, visit 612-673-4008

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