A Florida man who broke into a mosque and smashed windows and lights with a machete and then left bacon at the scene received a 30-year sentence for his crimes.
Police said Wolfe broke into the mosque, ripping down lights, smashing windows and leaving behind the pork product. Pork — including bacon and ham — is prohibited in Islam, a faith followed by 1.6 billion people worldwide.
Michael Wolfe, 37, of Titusville, Fla., will serve 15 years in state prison, followed by 15 years probation for the January 2016 crime at the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in Titusville. Prosecutors said the agreement was reached after discussions with the Islamic Society of Central Florida and Titusville police, USA Today reports.
“He entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony,” said Todd Brown, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. “He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation.”
Wolfe also offered to the court the fact that he was a habitual offender, Brown said.
Wolfe was caught on camera leaving raw bacon at the entrance of the mosque and slashing at windows with a machete.
Wolfe pleaded guilty to criminal mischief to a place of worship on Tuesday. The sentence, which has a hate crime enhancement, will be followed by 15 years of probation, and Wolfe will not be allowed to visit the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in Titusville, the Brevard and Seminole County state attorney’s office said.
“The Florida Muslim Community is suffering an unprecedented number of hate crimes,” Wilfredo Ruiz, a spokesman for Florida’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement Wednesday. “Multiple mosques and Islamic institutions have been broken into, vandalized and even set on fire.”
Prosecutors told Florida Today the plea deal was reached after speaking with CAIR and Titusville police.
“The intent is to really deter similar kinds of hate crime. After what we’ve seen in Texas at the church, this is needed,” Imam Muhammad Musri, who oversees a network of mosques in the area, told the newspaper.
Bacon was left at the front door of the mosque, the Associated Press reported, and in Islam, consumption of pork or products made from it is forbidden.
The vandalism came as a growing number of similar mosque vandalism were taking place across the nation. Muslim advocacy groups had grown increasingly concerned about a wave of what they describe as “anti-Islamic sentiment” when the Titusville attack took place.
Obviously, they are making an example of Wolfe in the hopes that others will think twice before vandalizing a Mosque.