Category Archives: Guest

Let’s Talk About Islam – With Honesty

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

fedwaI advocate for a holistic approach toward life. By holistic, I mean that when we talk about everything from medicine to education, we include a view of all aspects of ourselves as people, including our spiritual selves. If we engage only one layer and neglect or encourage people to divorce other parts of who they are – we don’t allow for people to fully express themselves, which leads to all kinds of social ills and hardships in our communities.

Honest discussions on faith allow us to holistically challenge the voices of extremism that flourish in the internet. This is also an important step if we are going to build a strong foundation for coexistence.

If faith remains a topic that can be shut down and treated superficially without understanding nuances and without being engaged with respectfully, then accusations against it cannot be countered in a meaningful way. I grew by the many mistakes I made online and in person communicating what I truly felt. Through this dialog, I was challenged many, many times to search aspects of my faith, that had had it remained unchallenged in a meaningful way, I would have never come to a greater understanding of some, and shed other views that I now feel were very much in error.

Quite a few accuse Muslims and Islam of trying to take over America….that Muslims say one thing but secretly are planning another. People who have a hatred and fear of Islam (such as Dutch MP Geert Wilders) are asked to brief our elected representatives in Congress in closed hearings and forums. Muslims cannot engage in a debate that is framed in a way that limits their ability to respond and their ability to engage in meaningful dialogue beyond polemics.

Read the rest of this entry

Arrests trigger flood of emotions in Minnesota’s Somali community

By Jamal Abdulahi

The recent arrest of six Somali-American young men, suspected of trying to join an overseas terror organization, has triggered a flood of emotions in Minnesota’s Somali community. Fittingly, community leaders are floating proposals to help everyone cope with these emotions.

The sorrow of heart-broken mothers touched many in in Minnesota’s Somali community. A mother of two suspects wept while trying to answer a question from a reporter. Her excruciating pain percolated to two daughters, who also wept as they accompanied their mother to court.

A suspect’s brother unleashed loads of disgust and frustration upon the informant who helped authorities. “I’m mad,” he told a flock of reporters covering court proceedings. A seventh man was arrested after posting a series of menacing messages on social media.

Friends and family who packed the courtroom during the detention hearing were dismayed to learn that the suspects were being held in solitary confinement, with ankles and wrists shackled, invoking images of Guantanamo Bay. About 200 supporters of grief-stricken families showed up at a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol and questioned the utility of shackling.

Continue reading at Star Tribune…

Jamal Abdulahi is an independent analyst. He writes about politics, economy and Minnesota’s Somali-American community. He also blogs at

The ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ program institutionalizes injustice against Somalis

By Kadra Abdi, Ayantu Ayana, Ramla Bile, Mohamed H. Mohamed, Julia Nekessa Opoti

Norm Coleman’s “In the Land of 10,000 Terrorists” Op-Ed that appeared in the Star Tribune on April 24, 2015, has offended many progressives and members of the Somali community alike. However, something even more egregious is receiving blind support from Minnesota’s progressive community. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, the Department of Justice has launched a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program in Minneapolis.

Like Coleman’s Op-Ed, the CVE program promotes seriously flawed theories of terrorist radicalization, as well as unjustified fear toward Somalis. Terrorism is not defined by a single cultural group or a faith system – yet the Department of Justice’s program exclusively targets Muslim Americans, and, in Minnesota, it specifically targets Somalis, cashing in on the tired and racist cliché that Islam and Muslims are inherently violent. The reality? According to the FBI, six percent of all acts of domestic terrorism are attributed to Muslims, which means that the CVE program will ignore the source of 94 percent of threats to homeland security.

While progressives have come out strong against Coleman’s Op-Ed, progressive leaders continue to throw their support behind the CVE, which enjoys bipartisan support.

Continue reading at MinnPost…

The authors are Somali and East African community activists who reside in the Twin Cities.


If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at

We also welcome your commentary at Engage Minnesota.

The Essence of Beauty

By Malak Sabbah, Engage Minnesota

I’m sure you all have heard the simple, yet profound saying of Confucius: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This galvanizing quote has for centuries transformed the spiritual lives of people, creating an aura of creativity and imagination in the way we perceive our world today. It is a shift in our understanding of life, encouraging us to seek beauty through our own distinct lens.

Society  has long programmed our perceptions and outlooks, whether it’s about our physical features, inner beauty, or our world and everything in between, to the point where conforming is the only gateway to happiness, so they say. But this quote or better yet, state of mind, can really uplift the spirit, guiding us towards finding beauty in nearly everything.

This quote teaches us that a deformed rose stem is beautiful if only we learn how to shift our focus on the enriching red color of the pedals above. It teaches us that when you peel open a grapefruit, don’t quickly rush to devour it; rather notice the fine tuning of how it’s split perfectly, and notice the natural order of its structure and vibrant color. Or it teaches us to look at the flock of birds flying harmoniously together in groups, where each bird dares to fly out of the line, to learn about teamwork and standing together amongst the rigid winds.

Read the rest of this entry

Texas congresswoman Molly White needs to reaffirm her allegiance to the US and apologize to all Americans

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

Yesterday’s fiasco by Texas congresswoman Molly White is diagnostic of her deep bitterness toward American Muslims as well as, perhaps, her own temperament challenges. However, not all anger is unjustified. In fact, sometimes anger is required. But in the case at hand, White should get ready to contend with Americans being rightfully angry at her. Read the rest of this entry