MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Police said they're investigating vandalism at a Twin Cities mosque as a hate crime, but the mosque views the defacement differently.
The images and words suspects spray painted hurt the people who worship at the Islamic Institute of Minnesota, Al-Salam Mosque.
"We consider it a work of misguided individuals who do not know what Islam is or what Islam calls for," said Amin Kader, president of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota.
Kader said they have been welcomed by the community during their more than 20 years in Maplewood.
"Nothing but kindness, cooperation, understanding and support," Kader said.
Security cameras caught two people writing "666" and "Jesus saves" with a cross on the back of the building in late July.
"As mayor, I am here to say acts of intimidation, fear mongering and violence will not be tolerated in Maplewood," Mayor Nora Slawik said.
The community stands with the mosque and condemned the defacement.
"The vandalism of this mosque is not just an offense for those who worship there but an attack on our entire community," said Scott Nadeau, Maplewood Police director of public safety.
While police investigate the act as a hate crime, the mosque offers a message of forgiveness.
"Part of the graffiti says 'Jesus Saves.' Those people would be shocked to know we actually believe in that," Kader said.
Kader called on the suspects to apologize for the vandalism.
"Come forward, own what you have done, know that you hurt people, apologize, clean the mess and we'll intercede with the police department to drop the charges," Kader said.
Police said they believe minors are responsible for the graffiti. Anyone with knowledge regarding the incident is asked to call police at 651-767-0640. Tips can also be anonymously reported online through Crime Stoppers.
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