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Minnesotans march against Islamophobia

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
February 21, 2016
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Minneapolis march against Islamophobia. (FightBack!News/ Meredith Aby – Keirstead)

Minneapolis, MN - Around 200 people rallied and marched in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood against Islamopobia, Feb. 20. The protest was organized by a new coalition of some two dozen state organizations calling themselves Minnesotans Against Islamophobia.

The protest began with a rally in front of the May Day Bookstore with two speakers. Rihab Naheel from Minnesotans for Syrian Refugees spoke about how discrimination has affected her and her children. Sabry Wazwaz from the Minnesota Anti-War Committee addressed how important it was to challenge the Islamophobic messages of Donald Trump.

The protesters then marched through the neighborhood which has a large Somali population. People from the neighborhood joined the march and were very emotional at seeing the intergenerational and multinational crowd of people marching with signs that said “Muslims are welcome here,” and “No to war; yes to refugees.” Some people on the sidewalks even hugged protesters to express their appreciation for the solidarity from non-Muslims.

The march ended with a forum at the Brian Coyle Community Center. Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) was the first speaker, "Islamophobia is a real challenge facing the Minnesota Muslim community," He added, "It is much more than some comments made by politicians. It is something that is creating a very unsafe environment in our Muslim communities."

Sadik Warfa from the Global Somali Diaspora, Imam Hassan Mohammed and Dega Warsame, mother of one of the young men facing charges material support for terrorism charges, also addressed the crowd. They spoke about the growing incidents of Islamophobia in Minnesota, especially at local schools, and the divisive efforts of local and federal law enforcement to investigate and entrap local Muslims.

"We brought together representatives of over two dozen concerned organizations and created Minnesotans Against Islamophobia," said Karen Schraufnagel, the new coalition's founder. "We need to do more than just respond to the national call for action. We are creating an ongoing network to stand with a Minnesota community that is under attack. Muslims are welcome here."