The director of an American mosque that was bombed on Saturday says he believes Donald Trump’s divisive campaign was to blame for the attack by creating a hostile environment for Muslims in general and for Somalis in particular. Mohamed Omar, executive director of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Centre in Minnesota, said he was extending an invitation for the president to visit and see for himself the damage he caused.
“This is the time we need our leaders to show they are tough on terrorism of all kinds including people who are bombing mosques in a peaceful neighborhood,” he said. “What surprises me is that every time this happens elsewhere he sends a tweet, but not this time.” Omar was preparing for early morning prayers when the blast happened.
The FBI says it believes an improvised explosive device was thrown through the window of the imam’s office at the mosque in Bloomington, close to Minneapolis. No-one among the 20 or so worshipers was hurt. A witness saw a pickup truck speeding away from the scene.
Many of the worshipers are drawn from Minnesota’s 57,000-strong Somali community, the biggest in America. Their presence was noted by Trump when he flew in for a campaign rally in Minneapolis in November.
The danger of letting Syrian refugees into the country had been a recurring theme of his stump speeches. But in Minneapolis, he claimed Somali refugees were arriving without adequate screening and causing problems for the state. “Some of them [are] joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world,” he said.
Omar, who is from the Somali capital Mogadishu, said such rhetoric was dangerous and put lives at risk. “He said very negative and inciteful things against us Muslims and particularly the Somali community,” he said. “If he comes to visit it is my chance to say this is what you said, people took your words literally. We believe because of this rhetoric and negative statements, we are now the victims.”
Trump has chosen not to address the attack in his prolific flurries of tweets so far this week. In the past, the White House has said the president is simply not able to address every incident.