MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man accused of spray-painting hate messages on a Moorhead mosque is being inviting by the area’s Muslim community to visit the building.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) says it joining the Moorhead Muslim community in forgiving 22-year-old Benjamin Enderle and inviting him to the mosque he allegedly vandalized.READ MORE: 'We Don't Have To Do It': Mask Mandate Confusion Abound In Twin Cities
“It is the month of Ramadan, and forgiveness is the message we learn from the day we step into this world,” said Moorhead-Fargo Islamic Community Center adviser Sajidd Ghauri, in a statement. “With that in mind, we at MFICC would like to let the gentlemen who allegedly put graffiti and hate messages on our mosque know that we forgive him from the deepest part of our hearts. Instead of coming in the dark, please come in light and talk with us. I guarantee you we will find lots of common ground and we will become good friends. Love is much more powerful than hate.”
According to CAIR-MN, the Moorhead Muslim community is inviting Enderle, and his family, to visit the mosque once the month-long fast of Ramadan is over.READ MORE: Police Reform A Major Sticking Point As Legislative Session Nears Its End
“While the hate crime sent a chilling message to our community, we welcome the opportunity to heal and move forward,” said CAIR-MN executive director Jaylani Hussein, in a statement. “We applaud the leadership of the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Community Center and the rest of the community, and we thank the wider community that came forward to support the mosque immediately after the attack.”
Enderle, of Moorhead, is facing charges of criminal damage to property and harassment with bias in connection to the graffiti that was found Sunday morning on the Moorhead-Fargo Islamic Community Center mosque. In his first court appearance last week, Enderle told the judge that he immediately regretted vandalizing the building.
Investigators say Enderle spray-painted the outside of the building and the grounds with a swastika and phrases like “Death to Islam” and “Kane Lives.” He told police that he vandalized the building to get a reaction from the community and the media. When speaking with investigators, he said that he didn’t “hate” Muslims.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: 80-Degree High Expected Monday; Summery And Damp Week Ahead
Members of the area’s Muslim community gathered last week to clean the mosque with brushes, chemicals, and power washers. A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds to upgrade the building’s security.