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“This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”: Moorhead mosque vandal pleads guilty

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 11:54 AM CDT
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MOORHEAD, M.N. (Valley News Live) - The man accused of vandalizing a Moorhead mosque with racist and hateful graffiti back in April won’t spend another day in jail.

A Clay County judge sentenced 22-year-old Benjamin Enderle to five years of supervised probation, along with 40 hours of community service with a minority group, mandatory participation in a restorative justice program, and Enderle is prohibited from ever owning a firearm.

Enderle was caught on security cameras outside of the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center Mosque, located at 2215 12th Ave. S. on April 24 using red spray paint to write messages on the building including, ‘Go to hell’ and ‘Death to Islam.’

While members of the mosque emphasized in court Friday morning that they forgive Enderle for what he did, that doesn’t mean they will forget.

“As a direct result of your actions, some members of our community are now hesitant to come and observe prayers as they would normally do,” Otoo Haarum, a spokesman with the mosque said.

Haarum says the mosque is in the process of upping security, which includes blocking all of the windows in the worship space.

“Our community has become hypersensitive, paranoid and untrusting of even innocent passersby who look like you,” Haarum said.

Haarum also told the court he also hopes Enderle decides to come to a service at the mosque.

“I’d like to apologize to the people of the Moorhead Islam community ask for their forgiveness,” Enderle said. “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Enderle’s attorney says the 22-year-old has taken full responsibility from the start, and says Enderle does not hate those of Islamic faith.

“He just did it to get a rise out of the news media. He immediately wished he had never done it,” defense attorney Michael Minard said.

The mosque went on to thank the community for their support and clean-up efforts in the days following the vandalism, as well as the Walmart employee who helped Moorhead Police crack the case.

“Your action may have saved lives and for that reason we say, ‘May the good Lord take care of you, as you take care of people you do not even know,’” Haarum said.

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