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“I want them to know what Islam really is,” said Syed. “A lot of time, there’s misconception with what’s going on. They get a one-sided view and don’t really interact with Muslims. If people interact with Muslims, they will have a completely different perspective of what Islam really is. ”
The Twin Cities has been a welcoming place for Muslims overall, Saroya said. But Muslims in Minnesota remain concerned with discrimination at work, harassment at schools and other civil rights issues.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis is investigating the rejection of a proposed Islamic center in St. Anthony last year. At least three other mosque projects in the past year or so were eventually approved despite community opposition, according to CAIR-MN.
In Blaine, city officials approved the Islamic school and urged neighbors against it not to be blinded by any prejudice against Muslims — a move Saroya’s group lauded.
“Minnesota has this culture where people tend to be more Minnesota Nice,” Saroya said. “I wear a head scarf, they’re not gonna just come up to me and say, ‘Hey why do you wear that?’ But [Ramadan] is an opportunity for people to ask those questions.”
Rose French • 612-673-4352