CEDAR RAPIDS — You will be killed here.
That’s the message sprayed in black paint over and over again inside Tigani Mohamoud’s home on Sixth Street N.W. in Cedar Rapids, along with epithets directed toward Islam.
Mohamoud, a Muslim who came to the United States from Sudan in 2007, said he has endured graffiti, vandalism, thefts and other crimes at the home he purchased in 2013 and has been trying in vain to refurbish ever since. This is the first time, however, the crimes have elevated to threats on his life.
“I know they want to scare me and they don’t want me to own this house,” Mohamoud said Wednesday from inside the home, which has been littered with trash and damaged throughout. “They think I’m going to leave this house.”
Mohamoud, who lives with his wife and daughter in Iowa City, said he bought the home about two yeas ago after it has been damaged in the 2008 floods. He said he has been trying to fix it up and make it a permanent home for his family.
However, during the past two years the home has been repeatedly broken into and damaged. His fence and water heater have been stolen and people have broken in and partied in the home. Nowadays, the windows are boarded and he cannot secure the front door.
In addition to the issues with crime in the home, Mohamoud said he is in a struggling with the city to obtain the proper permits to work on the house or demolish and rebuild on the site.
A city spokeswoman said Wednesday he has no reconstruction permit for the property.
Mohamoud reported the graffiti and threats to police Tuesday and an investigator was at the home Wednesday.
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“We have the potential for a hate crime, obviously,” said Cedar Rapids police investigator Rick Dvorsky, who said police will investigate burglaries and vandalism at the home as well. “We’re going to take a serious look.”
Cedar Rapids spokeswoman Maria Johnson said the police department will increase patrols around the block, as well as the nearby Mother Mosque of America.
Miriam Amer, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslims are sometimes targeted in the city.
“In Cedar Rapids, we probably get six a year,” she said of offenses directed at Muslims, particularly Muslim women harassed for their clothing. “Nothing as serious as this.”
Amer said she wants to see the people responsible for the threats arrested and for Mohamoud to know his life is not in jeopardy. “I want to make sure anyone who is Muslim doesn’t have this happen to them,” she said.
For his part, Mohamoud said he is committed to working with the city and either fixing up his house or rebuilding on the site. He said he will not be deterred.
“If they kill me, it will be in this house,” he said.