It is with deep concern and incredulity that we report on the events that occurred on Friday May 19, 2023. According to a criminal complaint, 42-year-old Said Murekezi confessed to intentionally starting a fire at the Oromo American Tawhid Islamic Center as a form of protest.
The suspect faces a felony arson charge, among other charges, and is set to appear in court Friday afternoon.
The incident has caused widespread shock and horror, as it marks another attack against a religious institution. The extent of the damage caused to the community center and mosque is described as extensive, and evidence located on the scene prompted investigators to label the fire as an act of suspected arson. It is particularly disconcerting that the perpetrator admitted to police that he would have set fire to another mosque or church if he had not been caught.
The city’s leaders have expressed their disgust and have vowed that those responsible will be held accountable. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stressed that such attacks against communities of faith will not be tolerated. He also stated that police and city leaders will be working with Muslim leaders to immediately increase patrols and improve readiness in the face of future attacks.
This incident is a somber reminder of the fragility of our religious institutions and the urgent need for vigilance and protection. Our hearts go out to the affected community, and we join in the hope that justice will be served and that such acts of violence will be prevented in the future.