BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (FOX 9) - Hundreds gathered Saturday in Bloomington to stand against hate and fear after the deadly shootings this week in New Zealand.
The message was one of love and that the time to be silent is over.
It was standing room-only Saturday at the Dar Al-Farooq Center gymnasium. For two hours, people from different races and religions listened to stories from their Muslim neighbors, and they left with a mission.
“There are people who are really nervous and very concerned, and your physical body in this space signals that you care and that’s a big deal,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Those who attended Saturday said they want the Muslim community in the Twin Cities and around the world to know they are not alone.
“It’s about educating yourself, understanding just because you have a certain religion, you’re not this or that or evil,” said Donald Crumbley, of Barbershops Creating Change in the Community. “Do some homework, talk to a Muslim brother or sister, have a conversation and I believe that can change some things.”
Some attendees said they have experienced the pain and fear of being targeted because of their religion.
“When there was a shooting in Pittsburgh, Muslims came out in solidarity with Jews and I felt I had to return that,” said Roger Feldman.
Others say they don’t want to sit around and be quiet any longer.
“One of the biggest things here to take away for all of us is we have to stand up against hatred and the dehumanization of other people,” said Debbie Manning, of The Table Minneapolis.
The message from Rep. Ilhan Omar was that everyone has a choice to love and reject hate.
“I always say love trump’s hate, but it begins with each individual person, you can choose to have suspicions that ultimately become hate or you can have an open heart, a curiosity that develops into love” Omar said.
The leaders say the time of staying silent is over.
“Every Minnesotan of good will needs to stand up and say, 'no, not on my watch,'” said Imam Asad Zaman, of the Muslim American Society of MN.
Saturday’s gathering lasted about two hours. Other elected leaders were there as well as members of various law enforcement agencies.