MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The largest civil liberties organization for Muslims in Minnesota says it’s received numerous grants from local foundations to help fight discrimination in the state at a time when tensions and fears are running high.
The state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Tuesday that it’s been awarded more than $50,000 in grant money and that it could receive another $25,000 in a matching grant if it’s able to raise that same amount.
Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR-MN, said the money will be used to help cover $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses stemming from an increased demand in its services to help fight discrimination.
“Islamophobia is real,” Hussein said in a press release. “It is much more than some comments made by politicians. It is something that is creating a very unsafe environment in our Muslim communities.”
Following the deadly November attacks in Paris by the Islamic State, there have been more than 30 reported incidents of bullying, threats, intimidation, and harassment towards Minnesota Muslims, according to CAIR-MN. The organization gathers harassment reports on its website.
Hussein says the money recently awarded to CAIR-MN will go towards workshops challenging Islamophobia, pocket guides with information on civil liberties, campaigns to help educate Minnesotans on Islam, and campaigns to counter terror recruiting and help young Muslim Minnesotans feel safe in school.
“There are a lot of good things happening in our community,” Hussein said. “I want to acknowledge that. But this is our time to build bridges of understanding and make sure all people are safe and secure wherever they go.”
The grant money came primarily from foundations in St. Paul. The St. Paul Foundation and the F.R. Bigelow Foundation made grants totaling $57,500, according to CAIR-MN. The matching $25,000 grant was offered by the Tom and Pat Grossman Fund of the Minnesota Community Foundation.
CAIR says it plans to also add two staff positions to help manage the increased demand in services. Donations to the civil liberties group can be made here.