MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Community leaders and members of all faiths came together Monday night to show solidarity in the fight against terrorism, and against Islamaphobia.
The community meeting was held at one of the oldest mosques in Minneapolis. Muslim leaders say some Somali-Americans are feeling the backlash of recent events involving some Muslims and its sparking hatred toward Islam. They stressed the actions of few do not represent the masses.
People packed the mosque with a common mission in mind.
“We are grateful to all of you for standing up saying no to Islamaphobia,” said one Imam.
Organizers of the event define Islamaphobia as hate against individual beliefs or religion, and say the community meeting is a step toward creating understanding and unity in Minnesota.
“Ninety-nine percent of our community is against this. We don’t want the actions of a few to undermine the actions Muslim-Americans take every day to fight with radicalization,” Jibril Afyare said.
Representative Keith Ellison spoke about the need for religious tolerance.
“Your willingness and desire to stand arm and arm with the community this time is a demonstration of your humanity,” Ellison said.
One by one, religious leaders, pastors, rabbis and Imams spoke about loving thy neighbor, and being open to understanding someone who may seem different.
“There is no end to this work. This is continual, this is perpetual, because we’re human beings facing life on life’s terms and we’re facing some challenging times right now,” another Imam said.
Leaders agree the hatred is rising as a result of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., a presidential candidate calling for a halt to all Muslims entering the country. Locally last week, another young Minnesotan was arrested and charged with trying to join ISIS. His friend was charged with threatening to kill FBI agents.
U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, who is prosecuting the local cases, attended the meeting and believes in the message.
“We really are all together speaking out against something that has no place in our country, our state in our city,” Luger said.
Other elected officials and members of law enforcement were at the meeting. All who spoke said they hope Monday night’s conversation will continue to grow and be one that will echo throughout the community.