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CAIR-MN Calls On Minnesotans To Fight Bigotry And Hate

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Muslim civil rights group is calling on the broader public to join with their Muslim neighbors to help fight bigotry and hate. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is holding an event Saturday to kick off a campaign to get 10,000 Minnesotans active in challenging bigotry. The event, which features speakers such as Gold Star father Khizr Khan, comes in the same week that two Muslim women reported being followed and harassed in Minnesota. Here are some things to know:


CAIR-MN has been taking steps to get the broader community involved in speaking out against hate after noticing an increase in hostility toward Muslims since the presidential campaign. Saturday's event is designed to be a call-to-action.

Speakers will include Khan, a Muslim-American immigrant who lost his son in Iraq and was criticized by President Donald Trump after Khan made remarks about Trump during the presidential campaign. A Muslim scholar, civil rights leaders and comedians will also be part of the event to get people energized.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN, said: "Speakers will be speaking to the idea that it's time for individuals to take back the streets and social spaces and reclaim those for all, and to challenge bigotry. It's going to take not just the Muslims. It's going to take everyone in the crowd."


Minnesota, which has the largest Somali population in the United States, has seen several incidents of anti-Islamic rhetoric in recent months. In September, after a young Somali man stabbed 10 people at a central Minnesota mall, the owner of a southern Minnesota ice cream parlor put up a sign that said "Muslims Get Out." Days before the presidential election, someone scrawled "ISIS" over a sign promoting the University of Minnesota's Muslim Students Association.

This week, one Muslim woman in Minneapolis reported that when she was driving with her 1-year-old child, two people followed her and blocked her from parking, then shouted obscenities, told her to leave the country and threatened to "rip her face off," according to CAIR-MN. On Saturday, another Muslim woman in Moorhead was followed and harassed, Hussein said.

Both incidents are still being investigated, police said.


Hussein said it's important for non-Muslims to get involved because the issue affects everyone. Banning people from majority Muslim countries, or talk of creating a Muslim registry, has troubled many non-Muslims and spurred them to action.

"A lot of people believe that the America that is starting to shape is not the America they stand for," Hussein said. "A lot of people are not only troubled by what's happening, but they also believe they are part of the problem if they don't become part of the solution."

Those who attend Saturday's event will be given concrete steps they can take to help — such as taking a stand on social media, hosting community conversations, participating in protests or becoming involved in crisis response teams to deploy to help families if a bias incident occurs.

About 1,200 tickets have been sold for Saturday, and Hussein anticipates that number will grow. The event is from 4 to 8 p.m. at the O'Shaughnessy Theater at St. Catherine University.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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