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Anti-Muslim sign at small-town restaurant causes protest, support

LONSDALE, Minn. --A sign put outside a family restaurant in the small southern Minnesota community of Lonsdale that says “Muslims get out” has caused a stir.

The Lonsdale News-Review said after a weekend of national news coverage of attacks in New York, New Jersey and St. Cloud, Dan Ruedinger, owner of Treats Family Restaurant in the town of 3,800 people about 40 miles south of the Twin Cities, said he couldn’t take it any longer, and took to his sign to voice his opinion.

“I’ve had enough and I’m standing up,” he told the newspaper. “With all the bombs and shootings we’ve had, we’re supposed to welcome refugees here who want to kill us? This has nothing to do with race, it has to do with a religion of hatred that preaches violence.

“Some Muslims are good people and want a better life. They need to step up, take control and hold the others accountable.”

In St. Cloud, a young Somali-American man was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer during a Saturday night stabbing spree at the local mall. In New York and New Jersey, a young Afghanistan-American man was taken into custody Monday after a series of weekend bombings and attempted bombings. Both men came to the United States as young children.

By Monday afternoon, an incident over the Lonsdale sign prompted a call to police as a woman who didn’t like the sign stopped and started pulling letters from the sign. Ruedinger told her to stop and a “small altercation” occurred.

Then Monday night, a small group of town residents protested saying the sign was “racist.” As they were protesting, Ruedinger’s wife, Karen, added to the sign, “In support of St. Cloud.”

“I do not agree with their sign,” protester Payten Estepp of Lonsdale told the newspaper. “It’s not Muslims, it’s ISIS. That’s blaming a whole group for something one person did.”

Lonsdale Mayor Tim Rud issued a public statement following the incident at the restaurant.

“Certainly and in no way does the city condone discrimination,” he said.

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