Abdullah Rashid, 22, is a Georgia native who moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, after he married a Somali-American woman.
Since arriving he has been making the rounds in the Somali-dominated neighborhood, 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.
Rashid, told a newspaper that he leads a group called the General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah. He says he has enlisted 10 others to help him patrol.
Rashid said he aims to turn Cedar-Riverside into a “Sharia-controlled zone,” where Muslims learn about the proper practices of Islam and “non-Muslims are asked to respect” it
Local Muslim leaders aren’t to happy and are working to stop Rashid’s group, and have notified Minneapolis police, who say he’s being banned from a Cedar-Riverside property. Some say the group is preying on vulnerable young Muslims in a community that has dealt with national scrutiny around radicalization and terrorism.
“What he’s doing is wrong and doesn’t reflect the community at all,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
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.
“We’ve had conversations with community members that live over there,” police spokesman Corey Schmidt said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to deal with it, but it’s something we’ve been monitoring.”
Rashid, previously known as Devon James Miller, converted to Islam in 2009. He said he started his group in Georgia in 2013. He married a Somali-American woman, who recently moved from Wyoming to Minneapolis, in 2015. They moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, and he applied for a permit to carry a handgun.
But the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office denied his application, saying there was evidence that he’d be a danger to himself and others if allowed to carry a gun.
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