Churches in Minnesota display “Blessed Ramadan” signs in support of their Muslim neighbors.
Minnesota is one of the states that saw a lot of hate crimes committed against Muslims in the past few years. This Ramadan season, Minnesotans are on a mission to show that they are actually a welcoming, caring, and respectful community. The Blessed Ramadan campaign, initiated by the Minnesota Council of Churches, will see the churches all over the state wishing their Muslim neighbors a blessed Ramadan and inviting Minnesotans to break bread with them.
Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, started last Monday (June 6th). Since then, “Blessed Ramadan” signs have been popping up in Minnesota Church yards. The signs were distributed by the Minnesota Council of Churches. So far, the Council has distributed about 1800 signs. Jerad Morey, program and communications director for the Council, said that the signs are a public gesture of goodwill towards Muslim Americans. Minnesota saw a significant amount of Islamophobia in the past few years, but they want to prove that is not who they are. The Minnesotan community, in general, is very welcoming, caring, and respectful, and that is what they want to project through the Blessed Ramadan campaign.
The Minnesota Council of Churches has 25 members representing various synods and denominations across the state, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the National Baptist Convention, and the Church of God in Christ.
The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Minnesota, Jaylani Hussein, called the campaign a great initiative. He said that it is a sign that deters bigotry and promotes tolerance in many ways. According to him, in the last year and a half alone, CAIR received reports of 30 to 40 incidents of Islamophobia in the state.
According to Reverend Jennifer Amy-Dressler of Pilgrim, the Duluth congregation for the past few years has been trying to learn more about their Muslim neighbors. When she came to know about the Council's campaign, she visited their website, printed out the “Blessed Ramadan” sign, and placed it on the Church's lawn. She also made copies for the congregants to take home and display it on their windows.
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According to Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, the sign sends a message, a message that everybody in the nation, irrespective of their faith, belongs, and that no one should be excluded.