FARGO - After several confrontations between Muslim and non-Muslim people in the metro area the past half-year, some community members are calling for more straight-talk from leaders and laws that prohibit "hate crimes" and "hate speech."

Hukun Abdullahi, executive director of the Afro American Development Association, said he will be at an Aug. 2 rally here hosted by North Dakota United Against Hate to take a stance against hate and encourage hate-crime legislation in North Dakota.

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"We want to show the world that Fargo is a welcoming community," Abdullahi said. "We are a community united."

The rally is being held as a result of recent incidents, including a Muslim woman being followed, harassed and told to remove her hijab while shopping in Moorhead in March, and the assault of a Somali-American man who was moving into an apartment with two friends in early July.

The latest such confrontation was on Tuesday, July 25, when a white woman threatened three Muslim women at a Fargo Walmart, telling them to "go home" and that she would "kill all of ya." The incident was recorded and has since gone viral.


Abdullahi expressed frustration that no Fargo leaders had reached out to him about Tuesday's incident, whereas Moorhead City Council members and police asked him how they could help following the incident with the woman who was told to remove her hijab in March.

Fargo Deputy Police Chief Joe Anderson said Tuesday's matter at Walmart is an open case and won't be discussed at this time.

"We have been in contact with the victims and suspect, and it is an ongoing investigation. This is all we are releasing at this time," Anderson said in an email.

When a Forum reporter reached out to Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney Wednesday afternoon, he was not informed about Tuesday's incident, having been operating on patients in St. Cloud most of the day.

When filled in, Mahoney said, "We do not tolerate hate in our community. We welcome people from all over the country," adding that the Fargo Human Relations Commission has been planning to weigh in on the over-arching issue of race and cultural understanding.

Rachel Hoffman, chairwoman of the Fargo Human Relation Commission, said the commission will encourage hate-crime legislation as a result of past incidents.

"We're taking a stand against these actions," Hoffman said. "This isn't an isolated incident and it brings attention to the other things going on in our community that need to be addressed."

Hoffman said the Human Relations Commission will be at Wednesday's rally, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the mall between and Fargo Civic Center and public library, to show that "intolerance doesn't have a place in the city of Fargo."

Mahoney added that he would like to attend, but is out of town that day.


"Diversity is in our community," Mahoney said. "For the city to survive, we need to be diversified and tolerant."

The Minnesota chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) invited the woman who threatened the three Somali women, Amber Elizabeth Hensley of Mapleton, to meet with members of the area's Muslim community and learn about their religion, according to a press release from CAIR-MN on Wednesday, July 26.

Two of the victims in Wednesday's incident will speak at the rally. Abdullahi believes education and communication are the best ways to resolve issues.

"If you feel anything about this, reach out. Let's talk about the this issue. Instead of threatening or talking about killing us, reach out," Abdullahi said.