The Star Tribune used the term “Islamophobia” over and over again to cover a community meeting held in Minneapolis held on Monday night by the Islamic Civic Society of America at a Cedar-Riverside mosque.
The event was organized after GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump called to temporarily halt immigration for Muslims, until the federal government can figure out what’s going on with the faulty vetting process revealed after the San Bernadino massacre that left fourteen dead. The terrorist attack, at a holiday party held by county government workers, was committed by a radical Islamist married couple wearing body armor and loaded with weapons and ammunition. The wife was allowed entry into the country from Saudi Arabia in 2014 under the K-1 fiance visa program, despite having advocated for violent jihad via social media and saying she wanted to take part in the cause.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto spoke at the Monday evening event addressing how Muslim women are fearing for their safety in Minnesota, “Some don’t even want to leave their homes. They’re not sure they can go out and be safe. And that’s wrong in the state of Minnesota. We cannot tolerate that.” Otto has been outspoken against GOP front runner Trump’s position on immigration, taking to Twitter after his announcement of the policy plan:
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison also spoke at the event tweeting “hate has no place in our country.”
Rev. Jerry McAfree, the former head of the NAACP in Minneapolis spoke as well, saying, “All of us in here know that Donald Trump is a nut case.” The room applauded and laughed at the comment per the Star Tribune account, “But Trump wouldn’t be saying this if there wasn’t a lot of other people believing that nonsense. … How many Donald Trumps exist in the school system that you send your kids to? How many Donald Trumps are operating in the business sector that continue to block your progress?”
McAfee’s attack on fellow-Minnesotans as bigots is notable, as the preacher went on a fierce attack of gay people in 2013, as reported in City Pages and threatened people questioning him, telling a supporter of gay marriage to “go straight to hell….the most hateful and bigoted people I know are gay…”
The anti-free speech rhetoric in Minnesota has been rising since Governor Mark Dayton told St. Cloud area residents concerned about the economic impact of ongoing refugee resettlement to “find another state” if they didn’t like it.
Also this week, Democratic Presidential front runner Hillary Clinton visited the University of Minnesota at an invite-only event to address the issue of counter-terrorism. Clinton said that any plan to address counterrorism must “respect diversity.” The New York Daily News reported that Clinton spent the majority of her time in Minnesota “rejecting the ‘bigotry’ and controversial proposals being offered by many of the Republican candidates running for President, singling out lines iterated by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.” Clinton stated, “We cannot give in to demagogues who take advantage of our basest instincts.”
Clinton also took the time to meet with Minnesota Muslim leaders and called for more taxpayer money for a pilot program that is “a collaboration of federal and local law enforcement, Muslim religious leaders and youth groups trying to intervene with young people who might be vulnerable to recruitment” according to the Star Tribune.
Minnesota has become a hot spot for terror recruiting and there was a direct threat to attack the Mall of America in Bloomington in February by ISIS-aligned Al-Shabaab in Somalia, the same group that killed 60 people on a mall attack in Kenya back in 2013. According to the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel in the U.S. House, Minnesota has had 15 individuals attempt to join ISIS, that’s one quarter of the total known in the United States. The recent arrest of 20-year-old Normandale Community college student Abdirizak Warsame of Eagan, who was working as a security guard, and helping friends join ISIS, raises concerns about employee vetting procedures in the state. Taxpayer money is being pumped into several programs that claim they can help Minnesota Somali youth stay away from terror recruiting. Alpha News reported on the requests-– that had bipartisan support–for $4.35 million in tax dollars from one Somali organization alone. The group was given $250,000 from the state’s legacy fund to expand programming around the state.
The country is on edge after the third terrorist attack in the U.S. this year and after 129 innocent people were slaughtered in a well-coordinated terrorist attack in Paris last month. In May, in Garland, TX, two Islamic terrorists attempted to kill 200 attendees of an exhibit featuring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad– organized in response to the murder of twelve people in January at the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper. One of the attackers tweeted his allegiance to ISIS before the attack, and had been previously convicted on terrorism-related charges according to CNN. Pamela Geller, a vocal anti-Sharia activist was at the event. She was then the target of a beheading plot by a Muslim man– loyal to ISIS and working as a security guard– who instead attempted to behead police officers in Boston, but was shot to death by an officer before he could carry out the plan. His nephew was charged as a co-conspirator and pronounced in court that he agreed with the plot. Boston-area Muslim community leaders questioned police on what had transpired when the knife-wielding man was killed by police, according to the Boston Globe.
In July, an Islamic terrorist killed four marines and a sailor, and wounded four others, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Also in July, a man who proclaimed loyalty to ISIS, was arrested in the Boston area for plotting to bomb a university. He was modeling the attack after the 2013 Boston marathon attack, committed by two jihadists, which killed three people. There have been other incidents around the country including a horrific murder in 2014 when an Oklahoma grandmother was beheaded by her co-worker, a devout Islamic convert, who was released early from prison on drug charges.
But the Democrats’ main ire seems to be directed at Republicans, as they seek to find solutions to the growing threat.
Senator Al Franken called Trump’s policy plan “beyond reprehensible” and “brazen fear mongering.” DFL Chair Ken Martin released a statement which read: Our country has always stood as a beacon for those seeking freedom, liberty, and opportunity. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty proudly proclaims “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free” words which unfortunately fall on deaf ears in the Republican Party who have found it easier to demonize people than bring people together around our shared values.