Sioux Falls, South Dakota would seem an unlikely place for confrontations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Yet this small city of some 120,000 souls in the nation's heartland has been the scene of some contentious divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Sioux Falls is one of those communities chosen by our government to resettle Somali and Sudanese refugees. Surprisingly as it may seem, the city has four mosques-including a mega-mosque currently under construction, a project opposed by many in the town who question why the need for yet another. Recently, Frank Gaffney of Family Security Matters came to town to screen the movie, "Iranium", which sparked protests by the local Muslims, led by former US Senator from South Dakota, James Abourezk, himself an Arab-American. The below article is by Jerry Gordon in Red County.
The below link is a report on the film by the Argus Leader (South Dakota).
There have also been several anti-Israel demonstrations organized by the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls. In addition, there has been a drive led by State Senator Dan Lederman (R) and citizen activists to pass a state law designed to ensure that only laws in conformance with the US Constitution can be added to state law-an effort to preclude any future attempt to incorporate sharia law into the state code.
In the middle of all this is a former Catholic nun named Lisa Marie Johnson of Mary's Project, who has been a leader in the above issues.
Not surpringly, Lisa Marie is paying a very personal price. She has been confronted on the phone several times by angry Muslims, insulted and had her car tires slashed. Just this week, she has had rocks thrown through the windows of her Sioux Falls home. Yes, opposing sharia has its price. Here is an account of her experiences just in the past year.
In September of 2010, at about 6 pm on a Wednesday evening, a male intruder made his way into her apartment building and was lurking on all fours by the door of Lisa Marie's neighbor. A 9-11 call by a neighbor sent him fleeing before the police could arrive. He was described as a dark-skinned male 20-30s, speaking with a foreign accent and driving an older model, white, 4 door sedan.
Also, in the fall of 2010, Lisa Marie was walking around her neighborhood when a white car driven by an African-appearing man with a white skull cap slowly followed her and tried to call her to get into his car. He continued to slowly follow her until turning off and speeding off when he saw a police car approaching. Lisa Marie described him as African (not African-American), Somali or Sudanese.
In January 2011, during the state legislative session arguing the state law issue, the tires of Lisa Marie's car were slashed as it was parked in her driveway.
On March 29, 2011 – The day of Iranium screening (followed by a panel discussion with Tom Trento, State Senator Dan Lederman and Captain Joel Arends), at about 4:30 pm, a car was sitting in her alleyway right in front of her house entrance watching her door. There were 3 men in a car with tinted windows. A neighbor pulled up and stayed in her car watching. They saw her, did not move, and stayed where they were for 3 minutes before slowly moving down the alleyway. Lisa Marie was at the hotel screening room at that point getting ready for the evening event after a day of press conferences.
On April 21st and April 22nd. On Thursday early in the morning, a rock was thrown through the window of Lisa Marie's house. It completely shattered the window. Lisa Marie was up on the second floor, and the rock came threw a second floor window. On Friday, another rock came through the window of the front door of her house, again shattering the window. These were big rocks that fit in one's whole hand, It was estimated that the perpetrator would have had to be only about 3 feet away from the window, to aim and break it like he did. Lisa Marie lives in an old historical home and the windows are old and quite thick.
This is the type of intimidation that Lisa Marie has had to put up with because of her opposition to militant Islam-even in a place like Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My admiration goes out to her for having the courage to not stand down in the face of thuggery.