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Anti-Muslim acts on the rise in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — On Saturday, a 61-year-old Willmar man allegedly set a pig's foot near a group of Somali people who were selling goods at a farmers market.

Two days later, Regina Mustafa, a congressional candidate from Rochester, received a religiously motivated death threat online.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes are rising sharply this year in the state, according to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-MN.

In the last month, there was a still-unsolved bombing of a mosque in Bloomington and vandalism at a Muslim cemetery.

Joseph Fernkes, 61, was charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the Willmar incident, according to the West Central Tribune newspaper.


Ben Larson said the group harassed at the farmers market were part of his program teaching minority youths how to grow food.

"He was going by the stand a few times … and flipped them off, and was saying some nasty things about the prophet Muhammed," Larson said. "Then later (he) came back with a pig's foot and set it into one of our vegetable baskets. And said, 'here, try to sell this you (expletive) Muslims.'"

Amir Malik of CAIR-MN said the charge is too soft — he thinks it should be deemed a hate crime.

"It's clear that they're doing it based on religion," said Malik. "That's why we would put it as a hate crime."

In the Rochester incident, an unnamed commentator said Mustafa would be shot. She said she expected this sort of thing might happen when she entered the race for Congress, but she found the actual comment disturbing.

Mustafa said friends have offered to provide security for her public appearances, and she'll accept those offers. Mustafa, who is legally blind, said it's almost impossible for her to assess security risks on the campaign trail.

"I want to take precautions," Mustafa said. "(I) have to be extra careful as I go out, but I'm not going to let it deter me from this race."

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