Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, Dar al-Farooq Center (DFC) is the largest community center serving Muslims in Minnesota and the surrounding four states. While DFC serves a majority Black Somali population, the center’s membership is diverse, representing at least 26 countries. Controversy over the center’s presence in Bloomington began in March 2011, when a public hearing notice of Dar al-Farooq’s application for a conditional use permit was published in the local Bloomington Sun Current (Planning Division, n.d.). Dar al-Farooq sought to accommodate its growing congregation by expanding out of its smaller Minneapolis location into an empty building in Bloomington. Vacated by a Lutheran high school in 2009, the building includes a gymnasium as well as shared athletic fields and parking amenities with the city (Hank, 2011).
During a Bloomington city council meeting in April 2011, council members discussed potential parking and capacity issues related to the use of the former school building by Dar al-Farooq. A day later, the council approved Dar al-Farooq’s application for use of the existing building as a community center, school, daycare, and place of assembly (Planning Division, n.d.). The approval was met with resistance during a city council meeting two weeks later from Bloomington resident Sally Ness. Ness claimed that Bloomington city council members approved Dar al-Farooq’s application out of fear of a lawsuit rather than the “facts specifically regarding capacity” (Mayer-Bruestle, 2016). She voiced additional concerns about capacity-related issues such as increased traffic she felt would make the neighborhood unsafe for children. Responding to the limited community resistance, Hyder Aziz, executive director of Dar al-Farooq, said in an interview with the Bloomington Sun Current that “[p]art of [DFC]’s mission will be to coexist with neighborhood residents and respond to concerns that are raised when the building is in operation” (Hank, 2011). In August 2011, the sale of the school building to Dar al-Farooq was finalized (Planning Division, n.d.).
Since the opening of the center in 2012, community and city government resistance has been limited while external agitation has grown steadily. On August 5, 2017, Emily Claire Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris carried out a non-fatal bombing attack at DFC. Emily Claire Hari was convicted on federal hate crime charges and sentenced to life in prison for her role in the attack (Department of Justice, 2021). In 2020, an imam was attacked (Peters, 2021). In 2021, the mosque’s operations were interrupted by an intruder (ibid.). Dar al-Farooq continues to operate out of its Bloomington location.
- Department of Justice. (2021, September 13). Dar-al Farooq mosque bomber sentenced to 53 years in prison. Available at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/dar-al-farooq-mosque-bomber-sentenced-53-years-prison.
- Hanks, M. (2016, August 3). Bloomington neighborhood formalizes concerns regarding Islamic center. Bloomington Sun-Current (Eden Prairie, MN). Available at https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_current/news/local/bloomington-neighborhood-formalizes-concerns-regarding-islamic-center/article_92155a51-8734-5eac-80b6-949ef35064aa.html.
- Hanks, M. (2015, March 12). Bloomington, Al Farooq approved revised agreement. Bloomington Sun-Current (Eden Prairie, MN). Available at https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_current/news/local/bloomington-al-farooq-approved-revised-agreement/article_508ab17e-f1f1-5dc6-9928-5d6549a99a72.html.
- Hanks, M. (2011, November 30). Bloomington City Council approves platting for Muslim community center. Bloomington Sun-Current (Eden Prairie, MN). Available from NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current.
- Mayer-Bruestle, A. (2016, July 26). MN Neighborhood Group says Mosque is Overusing Local Park. Alpha News. Available at https://alphanews.org/mosque-neighbors-petition-council/.
- Peters, J. (2021, April 9). Man apprehended by police at Dar Al Farooq Mosque after entering during Friday prayers. Sahan Journal. Available at https://sahanjournal.com/news/dar-al-farooq-arrest-minnesota.
- Planning Division. (n.d.). Al-Farooq Youth and Family Center (AFYFC). Available at https://www.bloomingtonmn.gov/plan/al-farooq-youth-and-family-center-afyfc.