Local Somali community reacts to fire apparently set at Portland mosqueby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A fire apparently deliberately set at a Portland mosque has some Minnesota Somalis worried. Portland police say someone started the blaze early Sunday morning at a mosque occasionally attended by Mohamud Osman Mohamud.
Mohamud, 19, was arrested on Friday for trying to set off explosives at a Portland tree-lighting ceremony.
The FBI says there's no apparent connection between that act and ongoing terror investigations in Minnesota.
But some locals are concerned other retaliation might follow.
"The mainstream community might look at us differently. We might be profiled; we might not even be welcomed in our neighborhoods anymore because of what the media's saying, or how that person has been characterized," said Abdifatah Abdinur, a Somali community organizer in Rochester.
Other Somali leaders, however, say Minnesotans understand most Somalis are good citizens who wouldn't harm others.
"I don't think that anybody feels threatened," said Dahir Jibreel, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Somali Justice Advocacy Center. "I don't think there will be any backlash. The public here understands that by and large, the Somali community is good families that is trying to help fellow citizens and is not there to harm them."
Jibreel says the Somali community condemns any act of violence.