Source: Huffington Post
By Sahar Aziz, who is Professor at Rutgers Law School; Scholar at Institute for Social Policy & Understanding; Senior Fellow at Center for Global Policy
Khaled A. Beydoun, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and Senior Affiliated Faculty with the UC-Berkeley Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project.
The perpetrators seek to intimidate the tens of thousands of Somali Muslims who attend mosques in the Minneapolis area.
When a church is bombed in the Middle East, American politicians compete to condemn the act as terrorism. They offer condolences to the Christian victims. Yet when the mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota was bombed just before morning prayers last Sunday, the silence from politicians was deafening.
Nowhere to be found were warnings that anti-Muslim terrorists are a national threat, hand wringing by policy makers about the challenges in stopping domestic terrorism, or expressions of solidarity and empathy with Muslims in America. The minimal media coverage referred to the bombing as a potential hate crime, as if terrorism and hate crimes are mutually exclusive. The lone voice of courage came from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who declared the mosque bombing terrorism.
While there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, an act of terrorism is a premeditated use of violence by nonstate actors against civilians for a political or social objective. The violence intends to intimidate a larger audience rather than just the immediate victims. And despite popular framing, an act of terror can be a hate crime if it is motivated by prejudice against the victims’ religion, national origin, or race (among other traits).
The bombing of the mosque in a quiet suburb of Minneapolis was both an act of terrorism and a hate crime. The perpetrators seek to intimidate the tens of thousands of Somali Muslims who attend mosques in the Minneapolis area.
Indeed, Minnesota boasts the largest population of residents of Somali origin, many of whom are U.S. citizens. Like many refugees from war torn countries, Somalis arrived in the U.S. with minimal resources. And also like refugees who have arrived on U.S. shores over the centuries, Somali Americans have built thriving communities comprised of small businesses, professionals, entertainers, and elected officials such as Ilhan Omar in the Minnesota state legislature.
However, Somali communities are collectively defamed as news media and politicians brand Somali American youth a domestic security problem, or in national security parlance, potential “homegrown radicals.” Pointing to a handful of cases in 2007 and 2008 where young men traveled to Somalia to fight in a civil war between Somali factions and more recent cases of targeted sting operations, politicians and selective media coverage stoke the fire of prejudice that contributes to hostility towards persons of Somali origin.