Worshippers getting ready for morning prayers at a suburban Minneapolis mosque suddenly found themselves in the middle of a crime scene when a bomb exploded. A room was damaged in the explosion but no one was injured by the blast that took place at around 5 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, south of Minneapolis. The FBI took over the investigation and quickly confirmed that the blast was caused by an “improvised explosive device” that damaged an imam’s office and sent smoke through the building.
Investigators still aren’t clear on the motive or who could have been behind the bombing. But one worshipper said he saw a pickup truck speed out of the parking lot shortly after the explosion. The bomb was strong enough that it shook windows across the neighborhood. “It woke us up instead of my alarm,” a man who lives in the area said. “It was loud; it was kind of like a firework-car crash-gunshot. It kind of shook me — like, you could feel it. I thought maybe somebody drove through our house or something.”
The mosque is no stranger to threatening phone calls and emails, Mohamed Omar, executive director of the Islamic center, told the Star Tribune. Usually callers say “that we shouldn’t be here, that we are a burden to the community or we are harming it.”
Leaders from other local faith groups spoke up in support for the mosque at a press conference on Saturday. “An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church,” said Curtiss Deyoung, head of the Minnesota Council of Churches. “It’s an attack on all faith communities. And so we stand with you, a million Protestants in Minnesota.”
The bombing took place at a time when anti-Muslim incidents have been rising in the United States, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The number of anti-Muslim incidents soared 91 percent in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2016, according to the group. And just last week, the Minnesota chapter of CAIR called on authorities to investigate vandalism at a Muslim cemetery.