People of all faiths, all ages and all races came together Tuesday evening at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington to show their support and denounce the destruction wrought from an explosive hurled into an imam’s office Saturday morning.
The crowd of at least 1,000 people gathered on the back lawn of the mosque and listened to more than 20 speakers — imams, priests, rabbis and lay people. They all shared the same message: We are all one Minnesota. We will not let hate win.
“An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue, an attack on a church, an attack on all communities of faith,” said the Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, head of the Minnesota Council of Churches. “We have to stand up to this kind of hate.”
Mohamed Omar, executive director of Dar Al Farooq, told the crowd that the bombing came during the first prayer of the morning, the “fajr prayer.”
“Today is a day to join hands, reject hate and reaffirm humanity,” he said. “We thank God Almighty for blessing us with good neighbors. We are one Minnesota.”
U.S. Sen. Al Franken spoke, as did U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and other elected officials. Walz called the crowd “the best of what humanity has to offer” and said the bombing was “a cowardly act of terrorism.”
Said Walz, “We’re here for you. You’re here for us. Tomorrow has to be a better day.”
Franken said, “What happened here is not just an attack on Muslims. It is an attack on all Minnesotans, on all religious faiths, on all those who are nonbelievers, on civil society.
“Throughout our history, we have overcome hate with love and acceptance,” he said. “The future of all our citizens, all our kids, will be blessed by peace.”
The FBI’s Minneapolis office has said solving the attack on the mosque is its top priority.
On Tuesday, the agency tweeted that “Special agent bomb technicians have collected the evidence and FBI laboratory specialists are analyzing the bomb components to identify the person who built the device used in the explosion.”
Verses from the Qur’an were read, sung in minor key by imams at the start and finish of Tuesday’s gathering. Speakers repeatedly thanked the crowd.
“We thank you from the deepest part of our heart,” said Abdulahi Farah of Dar Al Farooq, who emceed the program and told story after story about neighbors stopping by with flowers, cookies and good wishes in the three days since the blast.
Those in the crowd expressed their gratitude, too. “This is my community,” said Donna Campbell of Bloomington. “I’m not OK with what happened here. I’m here to support our neighbors.”
Patricia Ebert of Minneapolis said, “In situations like this, there’s not a lot you can do. But you can show up, be present and show support.”
No one was hurt in the explosion, which heavily damaged an imam’s office and sent smoke wafting through the large building.
Windows in the office were shattered, either by the blast or by an object thrown through them.
The blast, which was reported at 5:05 a.m. Saturday as about a dozen people gathered in a room nearby for prayers, jolted awake many residents of the neighborhood. No one was injured.
On Tuesday, the damage was still visible.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been silent on the bombing, and that has drawn some criticism.
“Silence on the part of public officials at the national level only serves to empower Islamophobes,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement calling for Trump to condemn the attack.
Sebastian Gorka, a White House national security adviser interviewed Tuesday on MSNBC, said the president wants to wait to comment on the incident until he learns more about it.