Muslims in Willmar are reporting that life in our fair city has remained peaceful and free of any significant harassment for them.
That is a good thing. We hope it continues.
Since the recent terror attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people, harassment of Muslims and their businesses as well vandalism of mosques has occurred across the country.
The recent terror attack in Paris has also spurred the antagonism toward Muslims. Distrust and harassment has also grown as the ISIS movement developed in Iraq and Syria and began terror attacks there and around the world.
Willmar’s population is about 6 percent black, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The majority of that population segment consists of Somali refugees and immigrants. Many of the newscomers are now U.S. citizens.
The Tribune story by Linda Vanderwerf Friday reports that Muslims here in Willmar believe the city has been welcoming to its new residents.
They also condemn any violence in the name of their religion.
“This act of terrorism (in San Bernardino, California) is something we all condemn, said Abdullahi Olowa, an outreach worker for Heartland Community Action Agency.
“Being American, those innocent people who were killed, those were my people, “ said Muna Abdulahi, a student at Willmar Senior High School.
Our community is not perfect. There have been negative comments by some individuals in the school system and in the community, some out of fear, others out of ignorance and a few out of prejudice. One person made statements while flying a Confederate flag. Another demonstrated with a religious sign outside the mosque of the Islamic Society of Willmar.
The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech for all.
Despite these minor irritations, Muslims continue to live, work and play here in Willmar. Some are even developing and growing their small businesses in Willmar.
Willmar handled the first wave of Latino arrivals several decades ago. The community has been accepting of the latest growth of Somali population over the past decade.
As we all continue to live, work and play in Willmar, it is important to continue to communicate, talk with others and listen to each other. That will go a long way in dispelling misconceptions on all sides.
We all enjoy the peace, stability and opportunity of the community we call Willmar. And we are all truly fortunate to be here in this city.