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Fargo's Islamic cemetery target of vandalism spree

Multiple concrete vaults used in burials were badly damaged.

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Smashed concrete vaults in a storage facility of the Islamic cemetery in Fargo.
Mike McGurran
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Community leaders say Fargo's Islamic Cemetery is the target of a vandalism spree.

Fargo's Islamic cemetery is about a mile south of Davies High School on the outskirts of town.

It's usually a quiet, peaceful area, and operating the one-acre cemetery is largely a grassroots effort for the Islamic Society of Fargo and Moorhead.

Things changed last Friday when a man who works at the cemetery entered the building where they house concrete vaults used in burials.

He found that the vaults, which go into the ground for a burial, had all been destroyed, said Heidi Soliman, a spokesperson with the Islamic Society.

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The building stored five of the vaults. All five have been badly damaged, smashed open, with concrete debris scattering the floor of the storage facility.

The overall damage is estimated at more than $5,000.

It would have taken a lot of effort to damage the vaults, a fact that isn't lost on Soliman.

"They needed to have some sort of tool to get in, and then also to break up these vaults," she said. "They're cement boxes that are heavy and big. So this is a little concerning, and why, and who did it and what was the point? Probably not high school kids."

Dr. Ahmer Qarni is on the board of the Islamic Society. He says most people in Fargo-Moorhead have always been accepting.

"Ninety-nine percent of the community is nice and cooperative and courteous," Qarni said. "You only need one bad apple, one bad person to spread the hate. So we are not shocked. You know, we do anticipate these things happening."

While the motive of the vandalism remains unknown, he's confident that it wasn't a random crime.

"This is a pre-planned hate crime, just to send a message to the Muslims, you know, that you are not welcome," he said.

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He says that despite the ugly nature of the crime, he and the thousands of Muslims living in Fargo-Moorhead won't let the incident stop them from maintaining the cemetery.

"We keep our faith, keep the cemetery going," he said. "And somebody who dies in Fargo is buried here because this is where we belong, too."

The Cass County Sheriff's Office is in charge of the active investigation into the vandalism.

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