'Solidarity Gathering' draws hundreds to Bloomington Islamic Center

Dar Al Farooq knows first hand that community support is important

Sloane Martin
March 16, 2019 - 5:45 pm
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The large parking lot was full. The surrounding neighborhood around 82nd Street East and Portland Avenue South was wall-to-wall cars. Hundreds of diverse Minnesotans filed into a basketball gym at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Saturday as a show of support following what officials call a terrorist attack at two mosques in New Zealand.

Norma Wolk attended the "Solidarity Gathering" because a simple Facebook post wasn't enough to convey the importance of the message.

"We have to show that we are present both in words, action and bodies," she said.

Inside, leaders with Dar Al Farooq reflected on the last time they were the center of attention: when it was bombed in August 2017. They finds themselves again trying to cope after a violent attack on their religion.

Imam Asad Zaman, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, listed the Genocide Watch's 10 stages of genocide and said to combat hate, it takes everyone in the community.

"Everybody has homework," he said. "When these steps happen in front of you, you have an affirmative obligation to call it out."

Two elected officials who are also Muslim spoke: Attorney General Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The former confirmed discussions are in progress to form a task force to study domestic terrorism and take steps to prevent violence based on white supremacist ideology.

"It is absolutely true that for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing," he said. "But I want you to know that your presence here is doing something. And I want you to know that right now we are talking about pulling together a task force to combat hate crimes and Islamophobia."

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson was greeting people before the start. 

"It's important because I live in Bloomington. Bloomington's my home," he said. "I think just to show that law enforcement is on the side of everybody, no matter what your religion is."

Hutchinson said the department's been meeting with leaders of mosques in the county to help them with security.

"They're going to set up some training for if an active shooter happens how to do a lockdown, kind of like the schools do," he said. "We're going to tell them how to look for signs of people being suspicious, how to report it properly. Every single mosque in the county we're going to offer our support and training. We're only as safe as the next place of worship, so church synagogue or mosque, we're going to make it a goal to make them safe so they can pray and live their lives."

Other law enforcement officials included St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts.