When Muslim voters attempted to learn how to participate in the GOP caucus, members of the Republican party lost their minds.
According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio, the GOP accused Muslim voters of attempting to infiltrate their party. They weren't, but they certainly might be now.
It all began with a Facebook post alleging a "Macalester professor from Bangladesh" taught a caucus training at a mosque. Dave Sina, the chairman of the 4th Congressional District GOP, said that the training "encourages [Muslims] to infiltrate them all, Republican, Democratic as well as Green and independent." The post went on to say that "the easiest is the Republican, because they don't show up."
Two state Republican officials shared the post and prompted hundreds of Republicans to flood the social media accounts of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota with violent and hateful messages.
"They are the responsibility of those who promoted this in this negative way, including two elected officials," executive Director Asad Zaman said. "These are designed to provoke fear, and they have done what they were designed to do. There are people who are afraid, and so they are posting hateful comments."
Minister JaNaé Bates, the spokesperson for ISAIAH, said the training isn't for a particular party and more about civic engagement and participation. Caucus trainings have been a staple in faith-based groups in the state for ages. The faith groups reach out to mosques and synagogues to educate citizens on how the process works. It doesn't favor one religion over another and certainly isn't isolated to a specific religion.
"Because in this particular training you have this white Catholic woman in a Vikings shirt and a black Muslim man facilitating a training — it just incited the deepest amount of contempt for people who are really just trying to engage in politics," Bates said. "Muslim Americans have just as big of a right and responsibility to participate in the political process as anyone else."
The facts didn't stop the conspiracy theories from flying, however. More than 700 comments have been posted on the Facebook post and it has been shared more than 1,600 times.
"This notion to infiltrate — this word that's getting thrown around, that Muslim people want to infiltrate the political system — I would just challenge people to really consider, what is the difference between infiltrating and participating in the political arena?" Bates continued said. "We need to really talk about what we're saying and what we mean. Because words do have power, but the reality is, you can'tinfiltrate a system that's open to the public."
The leading Republican candidate for governor perpetuated the conspiracy theories.
"I think she raises very legitimate issues," said Jeff Johnson. "I think there's a huge cultural issue that we're talking about here, not just showing up at caucus. There are some here who are trying to change what America is. And we can't allow that."
It prompted many to hurl accusations of Muslims attempting to take over the United States and establish "Sharia Law," however fundamentalist Christians are already on track to introduce their own version.