Since the 9/11 attacks, Muslims across the United States have faced
unprecedented harassment and discrimination, including death threats,
arson, loss of employment and isolation.
The recent increase in hate crimes against the Muslim communities in
Minnesota is disturbing to say the least. According to a poll released
recently by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one in four
Americans believes a number of anti-Muslim stereotypes, and negative images
of Muslims are 16 times more prevalent than positive ones. The other
factors contributing to this increase in hate is the hate-mongering in some
political circles and in some media outlets.
Minnesota Muslims have been somewhat shielded from these hate campaigns
sweeping America. While we experienced some harassment and discrimination,
it was to a much smaller degree than what most Muslims have been enduring
in other states in the aftermath of 9/11. Immediately after the 9/11
terrorist attacks, Minnesotans demonstrated great understanding and concern
for their Muslim compatriots. Lawmakers, law enforcement officials and
faith-based organizations made great efforts to reassure the Muslim
community, which feared backlash.
By and large, Minnesotans have been gracious in welcoming thousands of
refugees from Muslim countries. Indigenous and immigrant Muslims are very
much part of the mosaic of Minnesota’s social fabric. We have always felt
that Minnesota is a shining example for America as a whole.
The Islamic Resource Group communicates with dozens of Islamic speakers’
bureaus across the United States, and we always praise the civility and
tolerance that Minnesota provides.
While some speakers’ bureaus would tell stories of the difficulty and
challenges to speak and build rapport with non-Muslims, we would tell a
much different story of many requests from schools and other public
institutions seeking to create a better understanding.
In nearly 900 presentations on Islam, our experience with the 40,000
audience members has been extremely edifying. This emphatically underscores
the point that there is no substitute to bilateral education..