Muslim Presence in JRLC

In 1995, the bombing in Oklahoma City of a federal office building shocked the nation.  Although it involved no Muslim conspirators, the event sparked a new wave of Islamophobia that extended to the Muslim community in Twin Cities. According to Brian Rusche, JRLC's director at the time, “some of their members had been threatened, spat upon on street corners, that sort of thing,” leading to a desire by both the Muslim and other religious communities for a concentrated effort to promote understanding of Islam. This event led to observer status for the American Muslim Council (later the Islamic Center of Minnesota), to participation in JRLC discussions, but without a formal vote. The lack of a formal statewide organization for the Muslim community was something of a presenting problem to inclusion in JRLC, but the Islamic Center of Minnesota gained full membership in 2004.

The inclusion of the Islamic community required JRLC to update its position papers to gain approval from all four groups for the legislative agenda. While there were many similarities in beliefs, in some cases, legislative focuses were altered to allow for inclusion. For instance, a 1992 position paper, Crime and Justice, contained definitive language against the use of the death penalty, which is permitted in some cases in Muslim tradition. To allow for full representation of all participating organizations, the language of the paper was changed to focus on inequities in the justice system instead.