Religious community denounces attack on Islamic Center
BY JASON OLSON
Bloomington Police and Fire were called to Dar Al Farooq Community Center, 8201 Park Ave., at 5:05 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, on a report of an explosion.
The building was damaged on the inside but no one was injured in the blast.
Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives were on the scene to determine who caused the explosion and why but information is limited due to the ongoing investigation, according to the FBI Minneapolis statement made on Twitter. It added that an improvised explosive device broke a window from the Imam’s on the southwest portion of the building.
The FBI released a statement Saturday afternoon reporting it will lead the investigation. Preliminary investigation indicates that the explosion was caused by a destructive device in violation of federal law, the statement said, and asked Anyone with information about the incident to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, option #1.
Faith community responds
People from other local faith groups gathered for a press conference on Park Avenue at noon in support of Dar Al Farooq.
Nativity of Mary Pastor, Father Dennis Zehren spoke on behalf of the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and archdioses, “to offer our condolences and obviously we are always going to stand together with people of good will to promote peace and denounce senseless violence and pledge to you our prayers and solidarity as we go from here.”
Dar al Farooq Executive Director Mohammed Omar said the response has been strong as a member of the Bloomington community and as a faith community, “to stay strong and not lose hope. We need to stay united with all faith communities, like those who showed up to support us here today.”
Community members explained weekend school classes for approximately 300 children was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. but was canceled for the weekend after the incited less than four hours before the center would have been bustling.
Melvin Carter spoke during the press conference: “The imagery of seeing a place of worship firebombed during prayer is one I know, one we all should know and cannot take lightly. I stand with every single person who says this has no place in Minnesota, America or in our community. We have stand against this type of violence… we are strong and beautiful because we are different and because we are together.”
“So this really needs to be treated seriously,” a member of the community said standing in the parking lot of the center Saturday afternoon. “People are really horrified… It’s un-American and un-Minnesotan.”
Message of solidarity
President of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota, Hamdy El-Sawaf, echoed the message of solidarity.
“We gather together today hands in hands and shoulder to shoulder to give a very clear message. We’re not only the Muslims who do have this message but it is Muslims, Christians, Jews, people of all faith all over, we believe tha the values of our religion (are) totally, absolutely against what happened today.”
Curtiss Deyoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches shared his support by saying: “An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church. It’s an attack on all faith communities. And so we stand with you, a million Protestants in Minnesota.”
City of Richfield councilmember and member of Cedar Valley Church, a nearby Christian Church, Simon Troutmann added: “On behalf of our Muslim and Somali neighbors we stand in solidarity with them… this is not an attack on a mosque, it’s an attack on our community and whatever the intentions were of the individuals who did this, our intentions are to show love and support and the consequence of this action will be an outpouring of love. We say we love you guys and we’re glad you are here and we’re glad you are our neighbors.”
Bruce Johnson, who has lived near the center for 30 years off Oakland Avenue explained how calm and quite the neighborhood has always been. Two neighbors attend Dar al Farooq and says, “they’re nice, quiet folks.”
Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith released these statements today after an explosion at Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington.
The following is a statement from Governor Mark Dayton:
“Every place of worship, for all Minnesotans of every faith and culture, must be sacred and safe. My prayers are with the children, families, and faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center today.
“I thank the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, all other first responders, the FBI, and the ATF for their swift responses to this incident. Their investigations will be crucial in determining what happened this morning. I will remain in close contact with Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman throughout the weekend and until this investigation is complete.”
The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith:
“Governor Dayton and I offer our unwavering support to the faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, and the families and children who call the Center their place of worship and learning.
“Every Minnesotan has the right to worship in peace and safety. Though we do not know what happened this morning, or who was responsible, we all stand together for love and acceptance, and against hate and intolerance.
“We are grateful for the first responders, law enforcement, and the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, who have been working all day at the Islamic Center to investigate this incident and protect the safety of our community.”
Follow Jason Olson on Twitter @SunSportsJason.