Islamic Society Fargo-Moorhead looking to raise $50k for cemetery security
STANLEY TOWNSHIP, N.D. (KVRR) – The Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead is looking to raise 50 thousand dollars to improve security after a vandal destroyed five vaults.
Staff say they found out about vandalism and five destroyed burial vaults on Friday while getting ready for a funeral. Damage is estimated at $5,000. The vaults were stored inside an empty home next to the cemetery south of Fargo.
“I think it’s tough, you know, especially on that Friday, for example, for the families and try to come up with what to do and how to proceed with things,” Heidi Soliman with The Islamic Society said.
Board members have been in contact with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. The board has not discussed asking for a hate crime statute like the Council on American Islamic Relations has.
“Unfortunately, this cemetery attack seems to be something that was very vicious. Whoever came and did this had the intention of creating terror,” Executive Director of CAIR Minnesota Jaylani Hussein said.
KVRR reached out to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI for more information, but we haven’t heard back.
There is no sign outside the home or the cemetery saying they are affiliated with the Islamic Society.
There have been attacks at local mosques in recent memory. This summer a woman was seen lighting curtains on fire at an East Grand Forks mosque. Fifty-seven-year-old Suzette Gay Thompson of Thief River Falls faces arson charges.
In the summer of 2021, Benjamin Enderle spray painted “Death to Islam” at the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center. The 22-year-old served 95 days in prison for felony harassment.
“One thing that was not reported actually in the past was that the man who vandalized and targeted the Moorhead mosque actually belonged to an active three-person militia that had been online targeting the mosque,” Hussein said.
The Islamic Society is raising money to add cameras and lights.
“We need to basically tear down those vacant buildings that are out there and create a more secure building,” Soliman said.
North Dakota has a history of Muslim settlers. In Ross, the first mosque in the country was built in 1929.
“They might not even know, but they might even have ancestors who are actually settled in that area,” Hussein said.
Click here to donate to The Islamic Society’s fundraiser.