Min­nesota mosque ex­plo­sion ‘deeper, scarier’ than threats

Gov­er­nor: ‘This is an act of ter­ror­ism’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Dar Al-Fa­rooq Is­lamic Cen­ter in sub­ur­ban Min­ne­ap­o­lis, like other US mosques, oc­ca­sion­ally re­ceives threat­en­ing calls and emails. Its lead­ers say they’re more fright­ened now af­ter an ex­plo­sive shat­tered win­dows and dam­aged a room as wor­ship­pers pre­pared for morn­ing prayers. “We feel like it’s much deeper and scarier than like some­thing ran­dom,” Mo­hamed Omar, the cen­ter’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said Sun­day. “It’s so scary.”

No one was hurt in the blast, which hap­pened around 5 am Sat­ur­day. Win­dows of the imam’s of­fice were shat­tered, ei­ther by what the FBI called an “im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice” or by an ob­ject thrown through them. The FBI is seek­ing sus­pects and try­ing to de­ter­mine whether the in­ci­dent was a hate crime. Gov Mark Day­ton joined other pub­lic of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity lead­ers for a meet­ing in­side the build­ing Sun­day, de­scrib­ing the bomb­ing as “so wretched” and “not Min­nesota.” “This is an act of ter­ror­ism. This is against the law in Amer­ica,” Day­ton said at a news con­fer­ence after­ward, the Star Tribune re­ported.

A place for fam­i­lies

Be­sides serv­ing as a place of wor­ship and com­mu­nity cen­ter, the mosque in Bloom­ing­ton, just south of Min­ne­ap­o­lis, has a fit­ness cen­ter, gym­na­si­ums for boys and girls, a foot­ball field and ad­joins a city park, Omar said. He es­ti­mates the mosque holds up to 300 wor­ship­pers for Fri­day prayers. The com­mu­nity cen­ter also hosts com­puter classes, a bas­ket­ball league, re­li­gious classes, lec­tures and other events.

“It’s a place that a fam­ily can come and get ev­ery­thing they need,” Omar said. The mosque opened in 2011 at the site of a former ele­men­tary school in the sub­urb of about 85,000, and serves peo­ple pri­mar­ily from the area’s large So­mali com­mu­nity. Min­nesota is home to the largest So­mali com­mu­nity in the US, roughly 57,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est cen­sus.

Some res­i­dents op­posed the cen­ter’s open­ing, and com­plaints have been made about park­ing, noise and traf­fic, the Star Tribune re­ported. Omar said the cen­ter gets along with “92, 93 per­cent” of its neigh­bors. And while the mosque has re­ceived threat­en­ing calls and mes­sages, Deputy Bloom­ing­ton Po­lice Chief Mike Hartley said Sun­day he was un­aware of any hate crimes re­ported at the cen­ter.

Re­ports of anti-Mus­lim in­ci­dents in the US are in­creas­ing, in­clud­ing ar­son at­tacks and van­dal­ism at mosques, ha­rass­ment of women wear­ing Mus­lim head cov­er­ings and bul­ly­ing of Mus­lim school­child­ren. Also in Min­nesota, an Is­lamic ceme­tery in Cas­tle Rock Town­ship re­cently re­ported it had been van­dal­ized with spray painted pro­fan­i­ties and swastikas.

A US Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity state­ment on the Bloom­ing­ton ex­plo­sion says the depart­ment “fully sup­ports the rights of all to freely and safely wor­ship the faith of their choos­ing and we vig­or­ously con­demn such at­tacks on any re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion.” The re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to an ar­rest or con­vic­tion has grown to $24,000, said Asad Za­man, direc­tor of the Mus­lim Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Min­nesota. The Min­nesota chap­ter of the Coun­cil on Amer­i­canIs­lamic Re­la­tions, or CAIR, said its na­tional of­fice is urg­ing Is­lamic cen­ters and mosques to step up se­cu­rity. “If a bias mo­tive is proven, this at­tack would rep­re­sent an­other in a long list of hate in­ci­dents tar­get­ing Is­lamic in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­wide in re­cent months,” said Amir Ma­lik, the lo­cal chap­ter’s civil rights direc­tor. —AP

BLOOM­ING­TON: Mo­hamed Omar, left, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Dar Al Fa­rooq Cen­ter Is­lamic Cen­ter leads af­ter­noon prayers out­side the po­lice tape sur­round­ing the cen­ter. —AP

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