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Attack in Bloomington felt in Rochester Muslim community

News of the attack on a mosque in Bloomington sent shockwaves through Rochester's Muslim community, said Dr. Muhamad Elrashidi, a member of the Rochester Muslim Community Circle.

"We've had families say they might stop bringing their kids to Sunday school because they are afraid," he said.

It is not just the bombing in Bloomington that has area Muslims concerned, he said, but a growing pile of rhetoric aimed at Muslims both locally and nationally.

"The worry is these are not really isolated incidents, but an outgrowth of the permissiveness of hateful rhetoric and expressions," he said.

That rhetoric begins, he said, with the current occupant of the White House, who Elrashidi believes marginalizes people with his speech.


Muslims aren't the only group facing an increased volume of hate speech. Elrashidi said he has seen other faith communities, races and ethnicities facing rhetoric of hate around the country as people are emboldened to incite violence with their words.

"The attack on the mosque, which is an act of terrorism, brings to light that we're not immune to these troubling currents," he said.

Dee Sabol, executive director of the Diversity Council, said her organization has definitely seen increased rhetoric from people who have anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiments. That rise, she said, has come with a change in the socio-political climate. Hateful language has increased in mainstream and social media, and that trickles down to average people.

"People feel others think they same way they do about some aspect of immigration," she said."Those people feel they won't be shut down for their anti-immigration sentiments, their anti-Muslim sentiments."

Like Elrashidi, Sabol said that distrust of "others" extends not just to immigrants but to people with disabilities, the poor and the LGBT community.

Still, even with those rising voices, most people are welcoming and see the bombing in Bloomington as wrong. "I believe a majority of Minnesotans don't want to be hateful," she said.

That is the sentiment Elrashidi said he hopes wins out. Born and raised in Minnesota, Elrashidi said he grew up in Bloomington not far from where the bombing occurred at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center. He said he was heartened to see other faith communities reach out to the Muslims in Bloomington and offer assistance.

That kind of interfaith connection is alive in Rochester, and helps local Muslims know they are not alone. "It's about building those bridges and realizing an attack on any of our houses of worship is an attack on all of us," he said.


Dee Sabol

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