More than two weeks after the fire that destroyed his Blaine convenience store, Mohammad Ismail is still reluctant to go to the side of the charred building where someone had spray-painted an obscenity and the word "Arab" on the door. . .
The fire at the Blaine Dairy Store has led some people to wonder whether the city needs to look at fostering a better relationship between the city's growing Muslim population and more established residents. . .
Ismail did not seek outside help, but it found him when members of the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota) and a Minneapolis church reached out.
CAIR-Minnesota is scheduled to meet today with members of Lake Harriet United Methodist Church to talk about helping Ismail, possibly through a fundraiser.
Initially, a member of the church had approached Ismail to see if there was anything he could do for the family. That discussion led to the meeting with CAIR-Minnesota to discuss broadening the response to perhaps include other churches and mosques.
The fire might be an opportunity for people in Blaine to come together to discuss ways to foster better intercultural relations, CAIR-Minnesota chairwoman Lori Saroya said.
"This is really about change. Blaine is changing and becoming more diverse. And I think some people are having difficulty adjusting," said Saroya, who lives in Blaine.
Last summer, CAIR-Minnesota asked administrators at a Blaine middle school to investigate allegations that Muslim students had been taunted because of their ethnicity and religion.
The school was praised for its response, including appointing a diversity coordinator and creating a task force of students and faculty at the school.
In addition, Saroya said, her group has received a couple reports of minor incidents in Blaine indicating bias against Muslims. (MORE)