Dozens gather to stand in solidarity with Rochester's Muslim community
More than 75 people gathered outside a Rochester mosque early Sunday morning to show their support for the local Muslim community.
The act of solidarity was in response to a potential hate crime reported one day earlier. On Saturday morning, bacon was found in several places outside the Masjid AbuBakr Al-Seddiq mosque at 17 North Broadway.
Religious tenets prohibit Muslims from consuming pork products.
"The desecration of a place of worship is never OK," said Ahmed Makkawy, a Rochester resident who attended Sunday's event. "The vigil this morning was a way for faith leaders and community members to come together and make that statement loud and clear. I'm proud of everyone that chose to stand by the Muslim community in this difficult time."
Dee Sabol, executive director of the Diversity Council, said the outpouring of support shows that despite one reprehensible act, Rochester is alive with compassion and awareness.
"The response by community that has gone on throughout today is important for many reasons, but most importantly, we should never miss an opportunity to bring those who are victimized by ignorance and fear back into belonging," Sabol told us Sunday. "For every act of hate or bias there must be many acts of kindness and respect."
Local police have been notified of the incident. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on the FBI to investigate the "attempted religious desecration" of the mosque as a potential 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 Jaylani Hussein, director of CAIR's Minnesota chapter.
Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede was among those who participated in Sunday's vigil. He said religious discrimination is not what Rochester is about. "This is very — to use a kind word — disappointing," Brede told the Post-Bulletin.
Cover photo courtesy Dee Sabol