On January 26, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) co-sponsored a community town hall meeting at the St. Cloud City Chambers in response to recent anti-Muslim cartoons posted around the city. More than 300 community members were in attendance.
Speakers included CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Zahra Aljabri and other community leaders, including the mayor, city attorney, chief of police, St. Cloud State University president, and the human rights coordinator for the St. Cloud Human Rights Office. An open discussion was held after the speakers gave their presentations. The moderator of the program was CAIR-MN Outreach Director Kashif Saroya.
To address the increase in hate crimes in the city, the mayor vowed to establish an active human rights commission.
“Finding solutions to race-related issues takes time and effort from the community and officials,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Zahra Aljabri. “This was a great first step in helping the St. Cloud community come together to address some of those issues.”
Aljabri added that there was positive relationship building at the event, referring to a church youth group and mosque youth group who discussed holding interfaith youth meetings to better understand one another.
The town hall meeting was co-sponsored by CAIR-MN, St. Cloud Office of the Mayor, City Attorney’s Office, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, St. Cloud Islamic Center, Create CommUNITY, Great River Interfaith Partnership, Center for Service-Learning and Social Change, St. Cloud Area Somali Women’s Association, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum St. Cloud Chapter, NAACP – St. Cloud, College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University.
As a follow up to the town hall, CAIR-MN will hold a “Know Your Rights” workshop in St. Cloud on Saturday, February 13 to address the community’s safety concerns.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.