AJW Staff Report
Crude cartoons that depict the prophet Muhammad in derogatory ways, similar to those published in a Danish newspaper in 2005, were posted on utility poles in St. Cloud on Tuesday. The five pages of cartoons also depicted the Koran and a swastika.
The St. Cloud Times described the cartoons as “graphic” and “sexually explicit.”
St. Cloud Police Sgt. Marty Sayre told the Star Tribune that the cartoons “are clearly offensive to the Muslim community here, inappropriate and not wanted in our community.”
Sayre said they’ve seen swastikas before, but this is the first time images have specifically targeted local Muslims.
Mohamoud Mohamed, executive director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, said it appeared the images were downloaded from the Internet and some were written in multiple languages.
“It’s an insult to our religion,” he said.
Sayre said the city’s attorney will review the incident to determine if a crime was committed. If so, it will be investigated as a hate crime.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas condemned the postings.
“The JCRC deplores the hateful cartoons directed at the Muslim community in St. Cloud,” JCRC Executive Director Steve Hunegs said in a statement. “Our community, which has suffered similar acts of harassment, shares in the concern and condemnation of these hurtful acts. It is tragic that extremists cling to racist, xenophobic, anti-Islamic, and other bigoted ideas. The Muslim community is an integral part of the diverse and democratic society in Minnesota and we stand in solidarity with them.
“Judaism teaches us that all are created in the Divine’s image and with these beliefs we try to teach our children respect and dignity for all human beings. Although no crime is ever justified, attacks on individuals because of one’s race, religion, sexual orientation or simply intolerance of others are particularly heinous.”