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Community gathers to fight Islamophobia in wake of recent backlash against Muslims

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Community members gathered in Minneapolis Monday night to condemn hatred in the wake of the growing backlash against Muslims in recent weeks.

More than 100 elected officials, members of law enforcement, faith leaders and members of the community met at the Cedar-Riverside mosque, the Star Tribune reports, where they discussed Islamophobia, denounced fear and hate, and sent messages of love and support to the Muslim-American community, according to reports.

"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," U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said, according to FOX 9.

Monday's gathering comes after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States following terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad.

Abdisalam Adam, the chairman of the Islamic Civic Society of America in Minneapolis, told the Star Tribune the hatred against Muslims is worse now than it was after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The hope is that Monday's meeting also reassures non-Muslims that the community shouldn't be feared because of their religion.

“Ninety-nine percent of our community is against [extremism]. We don’t want the actions of a few to undermine the actions Muslim-Americans take every day to fight with radicalization,” Jibril Afyare, the president of the Somali-American Citizens League and a spokesman for the Somali American Taskforce, said at the meeting, according to WCCO.

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Monday's meeting comes as law enforcement continues to combat extremist recruitment in the state. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, who also attended the meeting, said back in April that Minnesota has a “terror recruiting problem."

In the last decade or so, at least 22 young Somali men left Minnesota to join the terror group al-Shabab in Somali, reports note. And in September, a government task force published a report looking at the cases of 58 individuals who left the U.S. to fight with Islamist militant groups overseas. It found 15 of those people came from Minnesota, the highest amount from any state. (Those numbers only come from a sample size, though, as the number of American foreign fighters is thought to be in the hundreds, the report says.)

It’s a concern for the local Somali community as well (Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the U.S.), with murmurs of young men leaving and little way to verify what happened to them. And members of the Somali community continue to work at preventing the radicalization of youths in the Twin Cities.

Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in next year's presidential election, will be in Minnesota Tuesday to discuss her strategy to address terrorist recruitment in the United States.

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