Dear Judge Frank,
We are writing to you as leaders from Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, the Muslim community, and other faith communities in Minnesota, to ask that the court exercise compassion and grant a sentence reduction to the plaintiffs in the case of Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris.
In the early morning of Aug. 5, 2017, the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota was bombed by three individuals. Emily Claire Hari, formerly known as Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris sought to terrorize an entire faith community. This bombing, without a doubt, is one of the most disturbing and horrifying events in the Minnesota faith community’s history. Not only was it traumatic for the victims, Dar al-Farooq’s members and staff, but it showed a level of intolerance that caused ripple effects throughout our state’s congregations (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and others).
Our community continues to digest and recover from this instance of hate, but we will not let it change our outlook for the future. That is why we are writing this letter to the court, to ask Your Honor to grant clemency towards Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris. While Emily Hari has shown zero remorse, Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris have taken accountability for their actions and have expressed profound regret, as well as a marked understanding of how they were able to become radicalized to the point of committing this heinous crime. We believe that this is not a hollow attempt to accept responsibility in exchange for a lighter sentence but a deeper change in their being after coming out from under the influence of an evil manipulator.
The harm that was done is real, the crime that was committed is real, the horror of what happened that day is real, but what’s also real is our opportunity to offer real forgiveness, and lead by example. We believe that only through forgiveness can we have any real chance to heal and move forward. As leaders of the faith community, we feel morally compelled at this moment to use our voice and convey the voices of the community members we serve. We urge the courts to view justice through the lens of what will not only best serve society as a whole, but what will best represent the interests and needs of the communities most affected. The attack on August 5, 2017, was an attack on a sacred space, a space of worship, a space of religious values, a space where one seeks out their higher moral self. While we may diverge on theological points, mercy, forgiveness, and the opportunity for redemption is shared by every faith.
Minnesota’s faith-based communities have stood by the Dar Al-Farooq and Muslim community in support and solidarity after the bombing took place as we called for accountability and justice. Minnesota’s faith-based communities stand once again by the Dar Al-Farooq and Muslim community in support and solidarity as we call today for justice that respects the values that were targeted on August 5, 2017 and restores the humanity Emily Hari sought to demonize and destroy.
At a moment when our country has been torn in half by the continuous sorting of human beings into categories of evil and hero, worthy and deplorable, good soul and bad soul, bad communities and good communities, we find the need for the court to exercise a nuanced and restorative approach to justice in this case all the more necessary. Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris did something horrible, heinous, and the damage of their actions might not heal itself in their lifetimes. However, Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris are two young men whose self and souls extend well beyond the short time in their life they temporarily were plunged downwards into the darkness of Emily Hari’s world. They have families, they have futures, they have a message that our country and other young men susceptible to hate desperately to need to hear. They deserve forgiveness.