MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - On Friday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that it is calling on state and federal law enforcement authorities nationwide to offer stepped-up protection for mosques and other Islamic institutions. The request comes after the arrest of three "militia" members in Kansas who allegedly planned to attack a mosque and apartment complex that's home to many Somali-Americans.
"Given this alleged plan to attack a Kansas mosque, the two other hate incidents reported today against Islamic institutions in Michigan and New Jersey, and the overall spike in anti-mosque incidents nationwide, state and federal authorities should offer stepped-up protection to local communities," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We ask our nation's political leaders, and particularly political candidates, to reject the growing Islamophobia in our nation."
The Twin Cities is home to the largest Somali-American population in the country. The Minneapolis Police Department is aware of the alleged plot, and is willing to add extra patrols around Islamic institutions, if that is requested, said Sgt. Catherine Michal.
Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR's Minnesota chapter, said he is not aware of any large-scale plots in Minnesota, but the community is concerned nonetheless.
"We had an incident where five young Somali men were shot up in June, and two of them being hurt," Hussein said. "So Islamophobia, this phenomenon of anti-Muslim rhetoric that we're talking about is on the rise, and the concern has been this kind of backlash attack against Muslims."
Hussein said increased dialogue can go a long way to bridge the gap between communities.
Election Day impact
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad urged American Muslims not to be intimidated and to take part in the political process to make their voices heard on Election Day.
Graffiti on New Jersey mosque
Recently, the New Jersey chapter of CAIR called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate graffiti left at a mosque in Bayonne as a possible bias-motivated crime.
The messages, spray-painted on the walls of the temporary location of Bayonne Muslims read "F**k Arabs", "Jesus Christ," and "Donald Trump." Worshipers found the hate messages early Friday morning while attending morning prayers.
Additionally, CAIR's Michigan chapter called for hate crime charges to be brought against a woman who allegedly threatened to blow up a new Islamic center in that state.
One of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents
CAIR reports that 2016 has been "one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents," with the majority of them being "violent in tone, characterized by intimidation, physical assault and property damage, destruction or vandalism."
In a CAIR survey of Muslim voters released earlier this week, 85 percent of respondents said they believe that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has increased in the past year. Thirty percent of Muslim respondents said they have experienced discrimination or profiling in the past year.