MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “This was an attack on all Minnesotans.”
That was the message from faith, community and political leaders to members of the Bloomington mosque fire-bombed over the weekend.
The FBI is investigating who threw the pipe-bomb-like device into Dar Al Farooq Community Center, the state’s largest mosque.
The explosion happened inside the prayer leader’s office Saturday morning.
The FBI is leading the investigation, and they released an image Tuesday of their special command center in Brooklyn Center dedicated to handling tips about the investigation.
They also tweeted about the work that is going into investigating the bomb remnants, and the clues they may reveal about the bomber.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s office estimates that 800 people gathered in solidarity at the mosque Tuesday evening.
The strength of the community overpowered the bombing through smiles, handshakes and strong words of support.
Wood on the window outside Dar Al Farooq marks where the attack happened. It was an act of violence that has brought out the best of the community.
“That we are together is something to count as a moment of joy, to see this kind of unity amidst this kind of tragedy,” said Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches.
Hundreds filled seats and even more stood on the soccer field behind Dar Al Farooq in a show of solidarity.
“It is needed because we are living in times of divisiveness and Islamophobic rhetoric, and it is important we push back against the forces of hatred with forces of unity,” said Iman Asad Zaman of Dar Al Farooq.
Faith leaders condemned the attack.
“I come today on behalf of the Jewish community extending a hand of support and embrace of comfort,” said Rabbi Alexander Davis of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association.
And politicians spoke of moving past intolerance, prejudice and violence.
“Through history we have overcome hatred with love with understanding and with vigilance,” said Sen. Al Franken.
Neighbors said they wanted to be there in person to show up for those who they say are being unjustly attacked.
“This is not OK with me that this is happening, and it’s not reflective of all people,” said Bloomington resident Donna Campbell.
“For people who feel vulnerable to have the community stand with them and around them literally is really important,” said Rev. Doug Mitchell.
And it is in that spirit that nearly a thousand people filled a field with respect and understanding.
“To the children who are here, the message you are hearing from your neighbors is: you are cherished, you are loved, you are Minnesota and you are America,” said Rep. Tim Walz.
Where the bomb struck, some things remain unchanged.
“When the bomb exploded there, some of the shrapnel caused this damage at the Imam’s desk,” Zaman said.
But inside that same office is also a literal basket of kindness: more than 200 messages of support from Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie.
Zaman read one of the messages.
“May god’s peace and love carry you all in this time of hurt. We love and care for you. You are in our thoughts and prayers,” Zaman read.
Zaman says this kind of support is bolstering the mosque and its worshippers, who are hoping for a large turnout to show solidarity.
Another show of support, a GoFundMe Page, has raised more than $75,000 from more 1,800 supporters for repairs.
Zaman had special praise for Gov. Mark Dayton, who called the attack an act of terrorism.
“He used the ‘T’ word and until he did that it was not considered OK to call this a terrorist incident. That is was it is,” Zaman said.
Zaman is sharply critical of President Trump who two days before his election came to Minnesota with harsh words for the states Somali population.
At the time, then-candidate Trump said, “here in Minnesota, you’ve seen firsthand the problems … with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state.”
Zaman wonders why the President has not addressed the attack.
“He was able to come to Minnesota on the eve of his election and talk about Somalis as a problem,” Zaman said. “He does not seem to care about this incident and that needs to be questioned.”
An assistant to the president told MSNBC Tuesday that the White House will make a comment once the FBI investigation is complete.
The FBI reports lab specialists are identifying the bomb contents to determine who built the device.
The local Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who can help investigators.