Somali groups and leaders in Minnesota are uniting to condemn the recent al-Shabab video, which calls for an attack on the Mall of America – while also battling prejudices that may unfairly paint local Muslims as a threat.
Jaylani Hussein told KSTP Muslims in America are victims of public perception, with many people simply assuming they're likely to do something violent.
"I think there's a general fear of backlash," he told WCCO.
Hussein is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota. That group, along with a coalition of other Somali organizations in Minnesota, released a statement saying they "condemn all forms of terrorism or threats of terrorism."
"While remaining vigilant, we must not allow a terror group to achieve its goal of spreading fear or panic," it says. "As a nation, we are better prepared and more united when we all work together to keep our communities safe."
The Twin Cities is home to the largest population of Somalis in North America.
Minneapolis Councilmember Abdi Warsame, who last election became the first Somali elected to the city council, has spoken publicly about the threats.
Abdi Bihi, with the Somali Education and Social Advocacy center, told FOX 9 the video calling for an attack on the Mall of America is about splintering the community – which would in turn help terror recruitment.
Ken Menkhaus, a political science professor at North Carolina's Davidson College, spoke with MPR News and agreed with Bihi's assessment.
"One of the ways that al-Shabab and other groups can win a battle without having to pull the trigger is to incite us to act in ways that make our lives miserable and alienate our fellow Muslim citizens," he said.
This embed is invalid