Two Muslim men have been shot on Wednesday near the University of Minnesota by an assailant who made racist and Islamophobic remarks about Muslims before opening fire on five young Muslim men.
Two of those men, aged 19 and 22, were injured during the shooting when bullets struck their legs in what police believe was an attempt to kill them.
All five men had been travelling to the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center early Wednesday for Daily prayers and were dressed in Traditional Arabic clothing.
One victim, 22-year-old Hussein Gelle told Minnesota Public Radio that the shooter made disrespectful statements about Muslims before the shooting. He allegedly said “F*ck Muslims”
The council of American Islamic relations urged police and the FBI to look closely at whether the shooting was a result of anti-Muslim sentiment.
Police have said they are looking into the shooting as a possible ‘bias-motivated crime.’
The victims told police that they had stopped at the corner of a road were two white men approached them on foot and started to launch abuse about Islam and Muslims, trying to start a fight. A gun was then flashed and the victims tried to speed off but the shooters fired at least seven shots directly into the car.
The victims then drove to the University of Minnesota Medical Center were one of the victims was treated and released while the other underwent surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his calf.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the council for American Islamic Relations said the organisation has seen a huge increase in Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims in the last few months and a cause of that could be the anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric of the presidential candidate Donald Trump.
He said, ‘Unfortunately, with the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in America, and especially with political rhetoric, our biggest fear of potential backlash.’
‘[The victims] were targeted for being a Muslim,” he said. “They did not antagonize. This was literally a clear profiling of them, harassing of them and shooting of them. This is a clear hate crime.’