(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 1/25/2016)Â – The Minnesota chapter of theÂ Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) announced today that it has received a number of grants to address growing Islamophobia with expanded education and outreach initiatives.
According to CAIR-MN, Muslims in Minnesota have reported more than 30Â incidents of intimidation, threats, bullying and harassment since mid-November.
â€œIslamophobia is real,â€ said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN. â€œIt is much more than some comments made by politicians. It is something that is creating a very unsafe environment in our Muslim communities.â€
CAIR-MN recently asked several local foundations to help it cover $100,000 in unbudgeted expenses associated with the increased demand for its services. In particular, the civil rights group has responded to more requests to protect civil liberties and encourage dialogue at a time of heightened tensions and when many MinnesotaÂ Muslims have feared for their safety.
In particular, the grants will help CAIR-MN offer â€œChallenging Islamophobiaâ€ workshops across Minnesota and create and circulate community safety guides and â€œKnow Your Rightsâ€ pocket guides for Minnesota Muslims.
Some of the funding also will support the Outreach United Open Mosque Campaign, a nationwide effort led by the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) to educate Americans about being Muslim and to counteract recruitment of American Muslims by groups such as the Islamic State. CAIR also plans to add two staff positions to help them manage the increased demands on the agency.
â€œThere are a lot of good things happening in our community,â€ said Hussein. â€œI want to acknowledge that. But this is our time to build bridges of understanding and make sure all people are safe and secure wherever they go. The more we know what to do, the more we can challenge Islamophobia in our communities and make them safer. This is a good time to talk about it.â€
CAIR-MN is working with schools in the Metro area and parents to ensure that Muslim students feel safe and can learn in school, he said. â€œWe have received reports of students being harassed in schools and we are working to ensure those issues are resolved before they escalate to violence,â€ he said.
TheÂ CAIR-MNÂ website has a link where it is gathering reports of harassment or other anti-Muslim actions. â€œWe want to know about all the incidents â€“ no matter how small â€“ that happen in Minnesota, so we can offer support,â€ Hussein said.
Hussein said the organizationâ€™s work to promote justice and mutual understanding has become even more critical since the Paris terror attacks and shootings in San Bernardino, California, late last year.
Those who wish to support the nonprofitâ€™s work may donate directly to CAIR-MN on itsÂ website.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.