Minnesota mosque explosion ‘deeper and scarier’ than threats

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appears at a news conference at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, where an explosion damaged a room and shattered windows as worshippers prepared for morning prayers early Saturday. (Courtney Pedroza/Star Tribune via AP)
Updated 07 August 2017

Minnesota mosque explosion ‘deeper and scarier’ than threats

MINNEAPOLIS, USA: The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in suburban Minneapolis, like other US mosques, occasionally receives threatening calls and e-mails. But leaders say they’re more frightened after a weekend attack in which an explosive shattered windows and damaged a room as worshippers prepared for morning prayers.
“We feel like it’s much deeper and scarier than like something random,” Mohamed Omar, the center’s executive director, said Sunday. “It’s so scary.”
No one was hurt in the blast, which happened around 5 a.m. Saturday. Windows of the imam’s office were shattered, either by the blast or by an object thrown through them. The FBI is seeking suspects and trying to determine whether the incident was a hate crime.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who joined other public officials and community leaders for a meeting inside the building Sunday, described the bombing as “so wretched” and “not Minnesota.”
“This is an act of terrorism. This is against the law in America,” Dayton said at a news conference afterward, the Star Tribune reported .
Besides serving as a place of worship and community center, the mosque in Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis, has a fitness center, gymnasiums for boys and girls, a football field and adjoins a city park, Omar said. He estimates the mosque holds up to 300 worshippers for Friday prayers. The community center also hosts computer classes, a basketball league, religious classes, lectures and other events.
“It’s a place that a family can come and get everything they need,” Omar said.
The mosque opened in 2011 at the site of a former elementary school in the suburb of about 85,000 and serves people primarily from the area’s large Somali community. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the US, roughly 57,000 people, according to the latest census figures.
Some residents opposed the center’s opening, and complaints have been made about parking, noise and traffic, the Star Tribune reported. Omar said the center gets along with “92, 93 percent” of its neighbors.
And while the mosque has received threatening calls and messages, Deputy Bloomington Police Chief Mike Hartley said Sunday he was unware of any hate crimes reported at the center.
Saturday’s bombing comes amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the US, including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren. Just recently in Minnesota, an Islamic cemetery in Castle Rock Township reported it had been vandalized with spray painted profanities and swastikas.
The US Department of Homeland Security said in a Saturday statement on the Bloomington explosion that the department “fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution.”
The reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction has grown to $24,000, said Asad Zaman, director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said its national office is urging Islamic centers and mosques to step up security.
“If a bias motive is proven, this attack would represent another in a long list of hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions nationwide in recent months,” said Amir Malik, the local chapter’s civil rights director.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.