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Man arrested in latest in string of mosque vandalism in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A 42-year-old man is jailed after a mosque in St. Paul was severely damaged by a fire that authorities say was deliberately set — marking the sixth attack on Muslim houses of worship in Minnesota in 2023.

The fire was reported early Wednesday at the Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center. The suspect was arrested later Wednesday and booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree arson.

Deputy Chief Roy Mokosso said the mosque and a community center were “extensively” damaged. No one was inside the mosque at the time and no injuries were reported.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said at a news conference Wednesday that mosques across Minnesota should increase their security and asked for police to bolster patrols around them, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Minnesota Gov. Walz condemned the mosque attacks.

“In the last several months, Minnesota’s Muslim community has experienced several attacks motivated by hate,” Walz said on Twitter. “In Minnesota, we have a zero tolerance policy toward violence. We continue to stand with our Muslim friends and neighbors.”

The fire comes three weeks after several instances of vandalism and arson fires on consecutive days at Muslim mosques in Minnesota.