Muslims Are Taking Over Wilmar, Minnesota-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A viral social media post makes a number of claims about Somali immigrants living in western Minnesota and argues that Muslims are taking over Wilmar.
A number of claims made in this Facebook post are true, but they’ve been used to spin a false narrative about what’s been happening in Wilmar, MN.
The Facebook post surfaced in December 2015, and it gained widespread attention in January 2016. The post said an unnamed couple who live in the small town that said, “Wilmar is soon going to be totally taken over by Muslims.”
The post makes a number of claims to back that up. First, it claims that an elementary school in the town had been converted into a mosque. That’s true, but it’s also not the entire story.
The Islamic Society of Wilmar purchased the former Lafayette Elementary School Building to establish mosque and school there. The school had been vacant for a number of years before that, and city council members approved conditional use permits for the mosque and school in April 2012. Seeing as though the school had been empty, the move was viewed as a positive one by city officials. The mayor did, however, say during a meeting approving the conditional use permit that he had received two emails opposing the permit, the West Central Tribune reports.
Another claim made in the Facebook post is that an Islamic group had purchased a storefront in downtown Wilmar and displayed a map of Minnesota with the continent of Africa superimposed over the top. That’s partially true, but an editorial published in the West Central Tribune said the storefront is owned by a successful economic development agency and questioned why its artwork is relevant:
A downtown storefront in the center of town with a map of Minnesota in the window that also features the shape of Africa does exist. Again, why is this so scandalous?
Second, the true story is this logo is symbolic of the old and new homes of African immigrants of our city.
This storefront in the center of town actually is home to a successful economic development agency based in Minneapolis, with a branch in Willmar. The business logo of this African Development Center is a drawing of Minnesota made to look like a jigsaw puzzle with one of the pieces in the shape of Africa.
It’s symbolic of the immigrants’ old and new homes — Minnesota and Africa.
The Facebook post also argues that children who have immigrated to Minnesota from Somali have struggled to assimilate into the school system. We weren’t able to find any evidence to back up that claim.
This Facebook post makes a number of truthful claims about Wilmar, but those claims are used to spin a false narrative that Muslims are “taking over” the small town.