Minnesota’s Muslim community was on edge Friday.
Shocked by the mass killings of 49 people at prayer in New Zealand mosques Thursday, community leaders urged law enforcement to step up security measures at the state’s mosques and cautioned fellow Muslims to be vigilant while going about their lives as usual.
Police provided extra security outside Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, while Jewish supporters held signs in solidarity, hoping to bolster the anxious worshipers filing inside.
“We are hurting,” said Imam Asad Zaman, addressing the packed room at Dar Al-Farooq. “Today is the time for us to hang on to our Muslim identity and be proud of it; today is not the day to run away.”
From St. Paul and Minneapolis to Columbia Heights, local police departments boosted patrols Friday at places of worship in response to the deadly attack. Imams held emergency meetings in the metro to discuss security measures.
In St. Paul, a bill at the Legislature that proposes extending a grant program to provide security support and upgrades at houses of worship in Minnesota already had bipartisan support before the shooting.
And in Bloomington, state Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is the first Muslim to hold that office, arrived at Dar Al-Farooq to show his support. He said his office also plans to create a task force to explore how policymakers and law enforcement can better crack down on the rising reports of Islamophobia and white supremacy.
Worshipers entering Dar Al-Farooq, which was bombed in August 2017, thanked Deputy Chief Mike Hartley for the Bloomington Police squad cars on site.
“We want to make sure people coming here feel safe,” Hartley said, adding that police increased patrols at all of the city’s places of worship after the New Zealand attack.
Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the Washington Post his 4-year-old nephew was among those killed. He received a phone call Friday morning from his brother-in-law Adan Ibrahin Dirie, who was in the hospital with gunshot wounds. Dirie had been worshiping in Christchurch that morning with his five children when the gunman opened fire. Four of his children escaped unharmed, but the youngest, Abdullahi, was killed. The family had fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand.
“You cannot imagine how I feel,” he said. “He was the youngest in the family.”
Muslim community leaders said at a Friday morning news conference in Minneapolis that some Muslim children were afraid to go to school while some women, especially those who wear the hijab, feared walking in public.
“Muslim women are the public face,” said Asma Mohammed, program manager at Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment, before arranging for Jewish allies to walk with any Muslim women who were concerned about their safety. “That can be scary. People see us as targets.”
She said the New Zealand mass shooting shows there needs to be more attention on how white men are radicalized online in their own homes.
“This did not happen on accident,” she said. “This is not a matter of good or bad or adequate security measures at the mosques; it is a matter of white supremacy.”
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Minnesota, added that rising anti-Muslim rhetoric is dangerous. But “hate will not win, and our community is resilient.”
Jewish community leaders stood next to him to show solidarity after the Muslim community supported Jewish worshipers following the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last year.
“We will be by your side,” said Rabbi Aaron Weininger, from Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka. “And from broken hearts … we must root out hate and plant for peace.”
Steve Hunegs of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) also issued a statement Friday condemning the attacks.
Erica MacDonald, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, whose office has handled the Dar Al-Farooq bombing case, issued a statement saying: “My commitment to freedom and safety for all of our faith communities and houses of worship is unwavering.”
Dar Al-Farooq will host a public solidarity event at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Outside the mosque, Jill Eisenberg of Minnetonka waved to people arriving for the prayer service and held a sign that said “All are welcome here.” She did the same thing after the 2017 bombing.
“We love our neighbors and we think it’s important they be here,” she said.
Other Jewish supporters like Noam Sienna of Minneapolis joined her, returning the support the Muslim community has showed them.
“It’s sad there’s this reciprocity,” Sienna said, holding a pink sign that read “Peace to you” in both Hebrew and Arabic. “We know what it feels like to be attacked.”