After days of Muslims around the world celebrating as the end of the holy month of Ramadan approaches, the festivities turned into anxiety and fear for the Muslim community in the Twin Cities.
An attempted arson attack on a Minneapolis mosque Sunday night was followed the following night by a fire at another mosque in the same neighborhood, prompting the Minneapolis Police Department to collaborate with the FBI to determine whether the incidents were motivated by bias.
The back-to-back incidents are the latest in an alarming increase in attacks on houses of worship in Minnesota, keeping Muslim communities on edge.
Against the backdrop of the recent attacks and with less than four weeks left until the legislative session, members of Minnesota’s Muslim communities and advocates have asked lawmakers to pass it. legislation It would broaden reporting of bias-motivated crimes.
On Sunday evening, a man entered the Omar Islamic Mosque Center inside Mall 24 with a brown bag believed to contain gas used to start a fire in the mosque’s bathroom. Worshipers quickly put out the fire, but the man believed to have started the fire, captured by surveillance footage, is still at large.
The next day and only streets away, another fire broke out at the Al-Rahma Mosque, with firefighting crews fighting the fire on the third floor of the building and evacuating men, women and children.
There were no injuries in either incident.
The fires come two weeks after surveillance footage showed a man smashing windows at the Nation of Islam, another south Minneapolis mosque, and months after two other mosques were vandalized and looted last fall.
Minnesota saw nine attacks on mosques across the state last year, the most of any state in the country, according to Jilani Hussain, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. according to Fact sheet compiled by the US Department of JusticeReligious hate crimes recorded in Minnesota rose from 20 in 2019 to 30 in 2020 and again in 2021 to 44. History of the FBI Showing 11 recorded hate crimes classified as anti-Muslim in 2021.
Dozens of lawmakers from the German Football Association, along with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carver, joined fellow Muslims MPs Hodan Hassan, Mahmoud Noor and Sumkab Hussain, as well as Senators Zainab Muhammad and Omar Fatah, for a news conference Tuesday to denounce the attacks. And highlight efforts to combat the increasing attacks on mosques at the state level.
“This is the Minnesota we want — in this room, it’s the real Minnesota, but there’s this notion that we don’t belong,” said Hassan, who represents the neighborhood that includes both mosques, referring to her colleagues. Show support. “I come from Minnesota, but I’m also a Minnesota Muslim and a Somali-American as well. I’m proud of all my castes, very proud of them, and no one should be afraid to go and pray in their holiest place.”
The recent escalation in attacks brought back painful memories for Muhammad Omar, the imam and executive director of the Dar Al-Farouq Islamic Centre. In 2017, a Bloomington mosque was firebombed by members of a white supremacist group as worshipers prepared for early morning prayers.
He said in an interview. “For us, this is between life and death – I was in the next room when the bomb fell and God gave me a second chance – but today, I see this right after Ramadan. It is actually more painful.”
Emily Claire Harry is the mastermind behind the attackHe drives from Illinois with co-conspirators Michael McCurter and Joe Morris and convinces them to throw a pipe bomb through a mosque window.
Omar said that a few days earlier, the Bloomington Police Department called him to tell him the mosque was on “high alert.” He said he feared that since the mosque was in the public eye due to the earlier attack and Harry’s trial, they could become a target.
“Imagine the police asking you to stay alert, how safe do you feel?” Omar said. “We have to make sure that you don’t die while worshiping and praying – it just gets worse with what happened in the past.”
Samantha Fang, an MP for the Bundesliga, and Senator Zainab Muhammad are the lead authors of the article House file 181. The bill would expand bias-motivated offenses to include gender identity or expression, and require the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to train officers on how to identify bias-motivated offenses. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner will also direct the solicitation of bias-motivated crimes from community organizations, schools and individuals.
Mohamed highlighted the community’s role in helping craft the bill, but also emphasized the community’s role in helping prevent more bias-motivated crimes by being more active in reporting them.
“When communities are able to accurately report, we know what’s going on and how things are going, then we can do something about it,” she said.