Abdullah Rashid, 22, above, a convert to Islam, has reportedly angered Muslims in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis for trying to impose sharia law on them.
On his arrival in Minneapolis last year, one of the first things he did was to apply for a permit to carry a gun. When Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office blew him off, he unsuccessfully sued.
Rashid, originally from Georgia, began making the rounds in the Somali-dominated neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, telling people not to drink, use drugs or interact with the opposite sex.
If he sees Muslim women he believes are dressed inappropriately, he approaches them and suggests they should wear a jilbab, a long, flowing garment. And he says he’s recruiting others to join the effort.
Local Muslim leaders are alarmed. They are working to stop Rashid’s group, which has the grandiose title of General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah. They have notified Minneapolis police, who say he’s being banned from a Cedar-Riverside property.
Some say his group is preying on vulnerable young Muslims.
Said Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
What he’s doing is wrong and doesn’t reflect the community at all.
Minneapolis police received reports in February from concerned residents who saw Rashid in a dark green uniform that said “Muslim Defense Force” and “Religious Police” and had two flags associated with ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Said officer Corey Schmidt, a police spokesman:
We’ve had conversations with community members that live over there. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to deal with it, but it’s something we’ve been monitoring.
In a recent interview, Rashid said he aims to turn Cedar-Riverside into a “sharia-controlled zone” where Muslims are learning about the proper practices of Islam and that “non-Muslims are asked to respect” it.
People who don’t know me would say I’m a terrorist. I’m someone who’s dedicated to Islam and trying to help the community all ways I can.
But the Islamic Institute of Minnesota issued a statement Wednesday saying Rashid:
Does not in any way speak for the Islamic Institute of Minnesota or the Muslims in Minnesota. We consider this matter as a dangerous precedent and a threat in our country and our way of life. We ask our law enforcement agencies to consider this grave matter to protect Minnesotans.
Rashid, who was previously known as Devon James Miller, converted to Islam in 2009. He said he first started the religious police group in Georgia in 2013, and wants to grow it internationally.
After Rashid launched his lawsuit against the police, court documents showed he has had run-ins with law enforcement in the past. He was arrested as a juvenile in Walton County, Georgia for impersonating a police officer, and a school district reported he had harassed a 16-year-old classmate on Facebook. The school district report mentioned he had mental health issues, and his mother said he had been suicidal.
Rashid’s lawsuit was dismissed in March. He said he does not have a mental illness, and his wife, Kadro Abdullahi, said that Rashid is not mentally ill and that she supports his work.
He’s a man with a good personality and he loves Islam.
On Wednesday, Minneapolis police said the Cedar-Riverside Towers’ management is in the process of evicting Rashid, and security at Cedar-Riverside Plaza is advising him he’s not allowed to patrol the neighborhood or they will cite him for trespassing.
On his website, Rashid posted a video titled “Never Trust Non-Muslims” by Anwar al-Awlaki, leader of an Al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen, who was killed in a US drone strike in 2011. And he had initially listed the Masjid Shaafici Cultural Center in Cedar-Riverside address as his organization’s headquarters.
But the imam of that mosque, Abdighani Ali, said it has nothing to do with Rashid’s group. Ali said he plans to file a complaint with police.
We’re against his ideas. We always encourage our community to be a part of the society.
Reports of Rashid’s activities coincided with news that a female doctor in Detroit was arrested on federal charges that she was performing female genital mutilations on girls as young as seven.
Jumana Nagarwala, 44, above, an emergency-room doctor at Henry Ford Hospital, was charged in Detroit on Wednesday with mutilating the genitalia of young girls.
She was identified as being a Muslim in this WND report about Rahshid. Few other media reports state her religion.
The BBC added that prosecutors said Nagarwala had been performing the practice on girls aged between six and eight for 12 years. She was investigated after the authorities received a tip-off.
If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
FGM was made illegal in the US in 1996.
In a voluntary interview with investigators earlier this week Nagarwala denied being involved in any such procedure. But prosecutors said she had performed:
Horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake and BarrieJohn (Nagarwala report)