Since a makeshift bomb tore through a Minnesota mosque early Saturday morning, President Trump has used Twitter, his preferred platform for communicating with the American people, to rail about “fake news,” attack a Democratic senator from Connecticut and insist that he’s working hard while vacationing in New Jersey.
One topic Trump has yet to address: the mosque attack at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington, where several people were gathering for prayer. Nobody was injured, authorities said, but the attack has left the Muslim community feeling unsettled.
And Minnesotans and others are still waiting for the president to condemn the attack.
“We are wondering why President Trump has not tweeted about this,” Asad Zaman, director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, told BuzzFeed News. “He seems to want to tweet about security and terror issues.”
“Silence on the part of public officials at the national level only serves to empower Islamophobes,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement calling for Trump to condemn the attack, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Tuesday, Sebastian Gorka, a White House national security adviser, defended Trump’s silence in an interview with MSNBC, suggesting it was prudent to wait until the ideological motive of the attack was known.
“There’s a great rule: all initial reports are false,” Gorka said in the interview. “You have to check them. You have to find out who the perpetrators are. …We’ve had a series of crimes committed—alleged hate crimes—by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left.”
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement Sunday that said its acting secretary, Elaine Duke, was “aware” of the explosion and that the agency was in “close contact” with investigators and community leaders.
“The Department of Homeland Security fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution,” the statement said. “We are thankful that there were no injuries, but that does not diminish the serious nature of this act.”
New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush tweeted an email statement from the White House Monday. According to Thrush, it read: “The President has been and is continuing to be updated and we are monitoring situation for now.”
Also Monday, FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick Thornton reassured the community his agency was thoroughly investigating the attack.
“While it is fortunate that no lives were lost, and the physical damage is reparable, the FBI recognizes the pain and anger of our communities anytime a place of worship is attacked and we will work hard to hold those responsible accountable,” Thornton said in a statement.
But many Muslims and others want Trump to denounce the attack.
Mohamed Omar, executive director of targeted mosque, invited Trump to “come and see — to come and see what happened,” reported BuzzFeed News.
“He is the president of this country, and this happened to us,” Omar told the publication. “He has to come here and at least express his feelings and say this is bad.”
That sentiment has been echoed across social media.
Silence after attacks where Muslims are the victims is not uncharacteristic for the president, who has been previously lambasted for a perceived double standard that critics claim he applies when denouncing terrorism. Attacks perpetuated by Muslims draw his attention and sharp tongue, they argue, while violence targeting Muslims is overlooked.
“President Trump has to date not expressed any significant opposition to Americans turning on Americans of the Islamic faith,” Corey Saylor, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Huffington Post. “Through his Muslims ban and comments from the campaign trail, he has instead painted the entire American Muslim community as suspect.”
A Pew Research Center survey released last month revealed that 48 percent of Muslims in the United States said they had faced discrimination in some form over the past year. The results showed that nearly 75 percent of those surveyed considered Trump “as unfriendly toward Muslims in America.”
While Trump’s Twitter feed remained mum on the Minnesota mosque bombing as of early Tuesday morning, other local, state and federal leaders had been quick to address the attack.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said the “terrible, dastardly, cowardly act” was “an act of terrorism” while visiting the center Sunday, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The destruction done to this sacred site is just unthinkable, unforgivable,” he said. “I hope and pray the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Dayton was joined by the state’s lieutenant governor, the mayor of Bloomington and state Rep. Andrew Carlson and state Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American elected to the legislature. Also in attendance was Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress, who said he was heartened by how the community had rallied around the mosque, reported the Star-Tribune.
“This is the right spirit and there is no better way to condemn the person who would throw a bomb into this mosque than to react in a loving, kind, inclusive way,” Ellison said.
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