Hundreds of people turned out Tuesday night to show their support for Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, the Bloomington mosque that was bombed over the weekend.
The evening began with a reading from the Quran. Then, from a small stage, politicians, community leaders and imams took turns condemning Saturday's bombing, including Sheik Abdisalam Adam from Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Minneapolis.
"People of Minnesota, people of the Twin Cities, people of Bloomington," began Adam, "one narrative that has been growing, that we need to confront and counteract, is the narrative that's trying to present Islam and Muslims as strangers to America, or not fitting the American narrative, and that's wrong."
While he spoke, children listened. Parents nodded. Some held bright posters with messages of love. Many in the audience recorded every speech on their phones.
Amy Watkins lives near the Islamic center. She ran over to the mosque Saturday morning to find out if her neighbors had been hurt by the explosion.
"I just can't imagine anyone behaving in that kind of way," said Watkins. "It's just so foreign to me. This is not what we do."
Since the bombing that targeted the imam's office, people have been coming by Dar Al-Farooq, leaving notes and meeting with members. Minneapolis attorney Amran Farah said she's overjoyed by the outpouring of support for her damaged mosque.
"To be in our backyard, and for us to be able to share a little bit of the mosque, and a little bit of our religion, regardless of what happens, this is just beautiful," said Farah.
She's been thanking visitors for touring the property, and answering questions from strangers.
"Some people want us to know that we're not wanted, but those people, the few that they are, they're overshadowed by the number of people here today."
It's a sentiment shared by Bloomington City manager Jamie Verbrugge.
"I think that Minnesota is unique in an openness to other communities. You see it in the concentration of diasporas from so many other places here in the metropolitan region, and we need to make sure that we send that message through our communities all the time, and everyday," said Verbrugge.
In the three days since the bombing, Abdulahi Farah, the program manager for Dar Al-Farooq, said he's already been changed.
"Today, when I was coming here, and just reflecting on what was happening, I usually, I'm just usually busy, but today, I took a different route, and stopped to say hello to three of my neighbors, said 'hello,' and 'how are you doing?' "
When the event closed with another Muslim prayer, Abdulahi Farah thanked the crowd and urged everyone to unite against against violence and hate.
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