MINNESOTA – A terrorist attack targeting a suburban Minneapolis mosque on Saturday, August 5, has been widely condemned by rights groups, seeing it as a dangerous new episode in the history of attacks targeting the Muslim community.
“We’re here all together in order to defend the values of our country, the values of our faith, the values of our people,” Hamdy El-Sawaf, president of the board of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota, told New York Times on Sunday, August 6.
“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.”
Law enforcement officials said the explosion occurred around 5 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. Fire and smoke engulfed much of the red-brick structure, but there were no reported injuries.
The FBI is leading the ongoing investigation, along with local law enforcement. Authorities say they believe an improvised explosive device was to blame for the blast at the mosque, which primarily serves the area’s large Somali community.
“It’s sad and just an inhumane act,” Mohamed Omar, who has been executive director of the mosque for two years, said in a telephone interview.
“There is too much anger out here.”
The explosion in Minnesota, which authorities had not yet labeled a hate crime, occurred at a time when studies have shown an uptick in violence against Muslims, and as vitriolic rallies targeting Islam have popped up across the country.
Muslims make up about 1 percent of the population in the United States — or about 3.35 million people — and are one of the fastest-growing religious minorities, according to the Pew Research Center.
Last month, Pew released a survey that showed 48% of Muslims said they had faced some form of discrimination in the last year, such as name-calling or threats.
The survey, which questioned about 1,000 US Muslims from January through May, also found that 74 percent viewed President Trump as unfriendly.
As police continued to investigate the bombing at the Minnesota mosque, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on Trump to condemn the attack.
The White House did not release a statement and did not respond to a request for comment.
“Silence on the part of public officials at the national level only serves to empower Islamophobes,” Hooper said in a statement. His group has put up a $10,000 reward for information on a suspect associated with the Minnesota attack.
At the mosque in Minnesota on Saturday, many were just seeking answers to what had occurred.
Yasir Abdalrahman, a worshiper at the mosque, told the Associated Press the explosion was “unimaginable.”
“We came to this country for the same reason everyone else came here: freedom to worship,” Abdalrahman said. “And that freedom is under threat. Every other American should be insulted by this.”
For Omar, who spent much of the day speaking to law enforcement officers and trying to console members of his mosque, hate is not something he fears.
“This is challenging,” he said, “but we will be OK. We will.”