Community leaders gather to combat 'Islamophobia' in Minnesota

A group of local leaders and Muslims gathered in a Minneapolis mosque on Monday night with hopes of changing the negative view of their religion following recent terrorist attacks.

"Tonight we want to say no to hate, no to Islamophobia,” community leader Jibril Afyare said.

Islamophobia is a word born out of terror. Attacks by extremists in Paris and the recent shootings in San Bernardino have again put many Muslim Americans in the difficult spot of explaining their faith.

"Despite some of the hateful rhetoric we have seen, and we have seen a little bit too much of it I think, this community has responded to that hatred with love and brotherhood and sisterhood," Rep. Keith Ellison said.

Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders all stood together asking that hate be replaced with discussion. But now more than ever public discourse is turning ugly. According to a recent New York Times article, in the hours after the California shooting, the top Google search involving the word Muslim was "kill Muslims.”

"I was sitting at my desk, about six weeks ago, with this frustration boiling over, because I know what we share and what we want for our community,” U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said.

The meeting comes on the heels of new efforts to counter extremism in Minnesota.  Minneapolis is one of three cities selected for a federal pilot program expected to launch early in 2016 -- the controversial effort to counter radical recruitment is being funded with a combination of federal, state and private money.