The Islamic religion is one that follows the Qu’ran as the exact words from God. There are a few glaring differences between Islam and Christianity, such as the belief that Jesus is God in the flesh and that he was crucified for our sins. Christian belief is that we are all born sinners, while Muslims believe that we are all born pure, absent of sin. The Muslim day of worship is on Friday while Christians worship on Sunday.
Some practicing Christians may take issue with things stated by the Qu’ran, but as cities like St. Cloud become more and more imbedded in the growing anti-Muslim culture, one has to wonder if the resentment towards our Muslim residents has anything to do with religion.
Ron Branstner, a used car salesman, gave an anti-muslim speech in front of a crowd of 100 people at the Landing restaurant in Avon Minnesota last month. His speech was a rallying cry for those who want to stop any, and all, Muslim immigrants from coming to Minnesota cities such as St. Cloud. Branstner claims that the United nations is sending Muslim refugees here to “Divide and conquer, get rid of our constitution, and get rid of our way of life,” in order to spread “Shariah law.” Shariah law is a Muslim based legal system.
Branstner isn’t the only one attracting crowds to spread Anti-Muslim fellowship. Back in January, Dr. Jerry Baumann held a hate-inducing anti-muslim event called “Shariah 101”. The Coon Rapids man who grew up in Saudi Arabia used his distant background as a tool to speak as an expert on Muslims and the practice of Islamic faith, painting a frightening picture of what is in store for the U.S. as the population of Muslims increase.
Whether the event was heavily attended or not is irrelevant because it gained traction due to state legislator Dave Brown attending and speaking at the event. Sen. Brown says “It wasn’t [a] hyped-up, Islam-is-terrible type of thing,” he said. “It wasn’t any of that.” Even though Baumann has called building a mosque, “treason” and “aiding the enemy.”
Another recent trend has been the more overt form of intolerance of the Islamic faith. Back in February, the Department of Public Safety was forced to revoke a license plate, which they had issued in the first place, that read, “FMUSLMS” after the public backlash it had received. Many couldn’t even comprehend that the DPS would even consider producing such a vulgar license plate. It even got attention from Governor Mark Dayton who said, “It is offensive, and the person who requested it should be ashamed. That prejudice has no place in Minnesota.”
The tension has been building ever since the mass influx of Somali immigrants began in 2009. As of 2014, the estimated number of Somali immigrants in St. Cloud and surrounding cities is around 25,000. Somali’s are widely seen by the uneducated eye as the visual representation of Islamic faith and are still, seemingly not accepted in St. Cloud. This is represented in the Citypages article which declared St. Cloud to be “Worst in Minnesota to Be Somali” which was published just this past January. The article has since been questioned by other St. Cloud publications such as the St. Cloud Times. Somali writer Abdul Kulane called the article “A shocking story built only from negatives,” and that “It is not representative of most of St. Cloud’s population.” But the damage has already been done and reputation is what it is at this point.
Last March over 100 Somali students got up and walked out of St. Cloud Technical High School in protest over poor treatment by other students and faculty. It was a big moment because, among other things, the parents of white students were faced with what Muslim students face on a daily basis. It didn’t help our image when many parents took to social media to declare their own children as the victims. Some of the reactions in the comments section reporting the story were so visceral, that entire comment sections had to be removed.
It seems as though the relationship has been getting worse in recent years, which is unfortunate to see in a growing city that could stand to benefit from diversity and a university with dwindling enrollment numbers.