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Minneapolis Restaurant Sends Welcome Message to All Immigrants

Tuesday January 12, 2016

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One small business in Minneapolis has started a movement that's spread throughout the Twin Cities.
It's a restaurant called Common Roots, located at 26th and Lyndale Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis.  It's a diverse area according to locals, "Ethiopian, Somalian people."

The owners, Elana and Danny Schwartzman, recently posted signs in the windows of it's restaurant with a clear message:  #HATE, meaning hate has no business there, but Muslims, refugee's and other immigrants do, "we didn't think we could continue to be silent, we wanted to stand up and say all are welcome here, a basic message of inclusion which sadly shouldn't be necessary," according to Elana Schwartzman.

Although there haven't been any reported incidents at Common Roots, the owners want folks to understand it's no place for prejudice.  And that matters to customer Jibril Afyare, "I've experienced Islamophobia."

The move comes after an increase in local reports of threats and intimidation according to the MN Council of American-Islamic Relations.  Over the weekend, it held Minnesota's first ever "Challenging Islamophobia Conference" in Fridley, "last year we saw an unprecedented number of hate crimes toward Muslims something we've never seen the past few years," according to Jaylani Hussein.

Just ask Asma Jama.  A verbal assault on her last fall turned into a physical one at an Applebee's in Coon Rapids.  That's after another customer lashed out at Jama for not speaking English.  Jama, who's Somalian and speaks three languages, needed 17 stitches to heal.  She was slammed in the face with a glass mug, "I'm in shock more than anything."

Even today, Jama needs reassurance to go into restaurants.  It's because safety is a stated priority that Jibril Afyare feels comfortable coming to Common Roots, "it's really setting an example of how we can come together that little sign says a lot, it'll go a long way to counter hate."

A small business group:  Main Street Alliance, helped to spread the inclusive campaign to other businesses in the Twin Cities.  And it only took a few weeks, for it to go nationwide.

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