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Muslim faith leaders call for more resources to keep mosques safe

Muslim faith leaders gathered to discuss mosque safety at the Mercy Center in south Minneapolis Tuesday, just weeks after an arsonist set fire to one of its rooms.

MINNEAPOLIS — In the wake of three attacks on Twin Cities-area mosques in the last two months, faith leaders are put on guard.

"Muslim community members throughout the Twin Cities are feeling anxious and afraid," said a moderator during a safety community meeting hosted by the Sahan Journal and MPR News Tuesday.

Those fears were on full display from leaders in the Muslim faith who gathered at the Mercy Center in south Minneapolis Tuesday, just weeks after an arsonist set fire to a room in the mosque where children were being cared for.

"Many mosques are actively thinking about how to keep their congregates safe," said the moderator. 

"An off-duty police officer cost us over $500, with four-hour minimum," said Imam Farrah. 

Those thoughts led to a push for more resources from both city and federal leaders.

"We've been applying for the federal security grant for the last two years," said Imam Farrah, an Imam at the largest mosque in the area. "We didn't even get a response or a word, so the situation that the mosques are in requires an action."

US Attorney Andrew Luger said those actions are in the works. 

"In the next several weeks, my office — in partnership with community leaders and law enforcement — will be launching a new initiative called United Against Hate," said Luger. 

"Are we talking about financial resources for mosques or just connections?" asked the moderator. 

"So we don't have money to give out," said Imam Farrah. "When I say resources, it's expertise, it's training."

They're doing so in the hopes of quieting fears in the name of safety. 

"Every single one of us deserves the right to worship in safety, and your safety in this mosque and every mosque will always be at the forefront of my work," said Luger. 

Muslim leaders plan to have more community conversations similar to the one held Tuesday to continue shining a light on the issue to help it come to an end. 


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