A Florida man who broke into a mosque, vandalized it, and left a slice of raw bacon inside has been found guilty of hate crime and has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Michael Wolfe, 37, a native of Titusville, Florida, pleaded guilty earlier this week. Wolfe broke into the Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in January 2016.
The CCTV footage of the incident shows the man smashing the windows and the lights in the mosque with a machete. He then leaves a slice of bacon by the front door, before exiting the scene, Daily Mail reports. According to the prosecutors, Michael Wolfe entered a plea deal with Titusville police and the Islamic Society of Central Florida, pleading guilty to the hate crime, waiving his right to an investigation in the process. Todd Brown, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said,
"He entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony. He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation."Brown further added that in addition to the 15 years behind bars, Wolfe would also be on probation for an additional 15 years following his release. In addition to the hate crime, Wolfe also had a pending charge of armed burglary, which was dropped as part of the plea deal. Wolfe has a long history of criminal misdemeanors, according to state records.This is the latest in a wave of hate crimes targeting Muslims and mosques across the United States. There have been a sharp rise in the number of reported mosque vandalisms across the United States in 2017. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), there have been multiple incidents of hate crime where bacon or other pork products have been used to desecrate mosques, specifically because the Islamic faith prohibits the use of them.
Michael Wolfe's sentencing has received mixed reactions on social media.While reactions have been mixed, with some calling Wolfe's sentencing a bit harsh, Imam Muhammad Musri, the head of a network of mosques across Florida, believes the sentencing to be just. He believes that this decision will send a clear message to other potential criminals who may be planning on targeting Muslims.
"The intent is to really deter similar kinds of hate crime. Our schools, our churches, our theatres, it's a red line. It's heartbreaking. The hate must stop."