Editorial: Attack on Muslim center is attack on us all

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The bombing of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington last weekend was shocking and an attack on all Minnesotans.

It also was just the latest in a deeply troubling series of anti-Muslim incidents in Minnesota this year — 14 reported incidents, according to one count.

The attack at the Dar Al Farooq center, which primarily serves Somali members, occurred at 5 a.m. Saturday as people gathered for morning prayers. An explosive device went off near the imam’s office, causing damage but no injuries, and the FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.

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Gov. Mark Dayton and Congressman Keith Ellison were among the leaders who gathered at the mosque Sunday to condemn the attack and call for Minnesotans to help their neighbors and reject racism.

The investigation is continuing and the motivation for the attack is unknown. Though it’s not clear it was a hate crime or an act of terrorism at this point, the result is the same — citizens who already feel marginalized and vulnerable, whether in Rochester, the Twin Cities or wherever, now have more reasons to be fearful and feel terrorized.

According to the Star Tribune, about half of the 14 anti-Muslim incidents in the state have involved physical harm, and fears of violence and bias apparently have contributed to mosques reporting declines in attendance this year.

The Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, of the Minnesota Council of Churches, was exactly right when he said Sunday, “An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church is an attack on all faith communities.”

Hamdy El-Sawaf, of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota, called this is a moment when it’s important that people come together “in order to defend the values of our country, the values of our faith, the values of our people. No matter what happens, small or big, it will never scare us, it will never bring us to our knees. We’re here to help each other, to support each other.”

We can all help by speaking out against intolerance, in whatever ways we encounter it every day, and by offering compassion to our neighbors from all walks of life.

Dayton said, “Every place of worship, for all Minnesotans of every faith and culture, must be sacred and safe.”

So must the whole state and nation.

— Rochester Post Bulletin, Aug. 9

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