Officials at the mosque that was bombed this weekend in a Minneapolis suburb are asking why President Trump hasn’t addressed — or tweeted — about what the state’s governor has declared an “act of terrorism.”
“We invite the president to come and see — to come and see what happened,” said Mohamed Omar, the center’s executive director, who was getting ready for early morning prayers when what the FBI called an “improvised explosive device” was thrown into the imam’s office.
“He is the president of this country, and this happened to us. He has to come here and at least express his feelings and say this is bad,” Omar said in a room adjacent to where the blast happened at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center.
“We are wondering why President Trump has not tweeted about this. He seems to want to tweet about security and terror issues,” said Asad Zaman, director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The organization is offering a $24,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
On Sunday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called the incident an “act of terrorism” during a visit to the center. “What a terrible, dastardly, cowardly, terrible act this was that was committed,” Dayton said, before touring the damage inside the center that contains a mosque and community center that provides day care, classes and various sports and fitness activities.
Dayton was joined by US Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in addition to Ilhan Omar, the US's first Somali-American state lawmaker, along with other local and state lawmakers, the Star Tribune reported. On Monday, Congress member Erik Paulsen, who represents the district, released a statement saying, “Any attack of this nature is an affront to our American and Minnesotan values.”
Since Saturday, the day of the blast, President Trump has gone on Twitter tirades attacking the media and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. But he has not addressed the explosion.
Trump has ignored or has had delayed responses to incidents involving violence against Muslims since taking office — but doesn’t hesitate to condemn Muslims, and has demonized them both on the campaign trail and in office. (Trump referred to terrorist attacks in his message about Ramadan, which is extremely abnormal.)
Trump never publicly addressed a February shooting at a mosque in Quebec that left six dead and many others wounded. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump called the Canadian Prime Minister to offer condolences and assistance. Just days after the Quebec attack, the president tweeted about a “radical Islamic terrorist” within hours of a failed attack at the Louvre in Paris that left one soldier with light injuries.
The President also took three days, after mounting pressure, to address the stabbing deaths of two men who came to the aid of two women — one who wore a hijab — who were the subjects of hate speech on a bus in Portland, Oregon.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the mosque bombing or if the president plans to address the matter. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, said in February that the president “doesn’t tweet about everything; he doesn’t make a comment about everything" when asked about not commenting on the Quebec attack.
On the day of the bombing in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Muslim Public Affairs Council — a national public affairs advocacy organization for American Muslims — called on the White House to condemn the attack.
“It is clear that this was a deliberate attack to cause death and strike terror among the local Muslim community,” said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC President. “Our national leaders must acknowledge and counter the alarming rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and related hate crimes against American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims, such as the Sikh community who one year ago today were themselves victims of a heinous hate crime.”
Five years ago to the day of the Minnesota mosque bombing, a man shot and killed five Sikh congregants and wounded four others at a temple in Wisconsin.
Congregants at the Islamic center in Bloomington were still reeling from the sudden attack and subsequent media attention. Panels hung from the ceiling from the force of the blast, and shrapnel, either from the device or projectiles dislodged during the explosion, had made holes in the imam’s wooden desk. No one was in the room when the bomb detonated.
Mohamed Omar said that one congregant, while entering the mosque for morning prayers, saw a man and a truck near the window of the imam’s office. The man in the truck fled in the vehicle after breaking the window, he said.
Omar believes the IED must have been a timed device, or used a fuse, because of the time between the window breaking and the explosion that occurred as the man was already driving away.
"While it is fortunate that no lives were lost, and the physical damage is repairable, the FBI recognizes the pain and anger of our communities any time a place of worship is attacked and we will work hard to hold those responsible accountable," Special Agent in Charge Rick Thornton said in a statement on Monday. He added that the FBI lab in Virginia and bomb technicians were assisting in the investigation.
One congregant, who did not want to be identified, came to the center with his two young daughters on Monday to maintain a sense of normalcy. He said the center served as a day care and community-gathering place for his family.
“Imagine a day care gets bombed, you know. The damage that happened, is just the physical damage. But the sense of security damage is three times, four times bigger, because now you’ve shaken our sense of security,” the man said. “And that takes times to repair.”
The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center plans to hold a solidarity event on Wednesday as it also gathers funds for repairs.
Omar said if he could tell the bomber one thing, he would tell him or her to, “Come pray with us, and come and share and we can tell you who we are.”
Omar then paraphrased a verse from the Qur'an: “God said that I created you as a human being, in different nation and tribes, so that you can get to know each other. Yes, we may be different than you, but we’re still human beings.”
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
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