Blog Archives

It’s not just conservatives. We’re all being duped by “fake news”

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

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Media is now more about manipulation than ever before.

The buzz these days is about fake news and how it apparently had a role in the election of Donald Trump. I worry, however, that a portrayal of fake news as being somehow proprietary to conservative websites is misleading, if not disingenuous.

Minorities, including Muslims, have been subjected to a barrage of hair-raising news warning that white people are basically out to get them. Every single incident involving racist remarks, letters, attacks, graffiti, salutes, conferences, flags, posters, or associations is amplified to the tenth degree by people who cannot care less about minorities.

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What Happened When K’naan Came to Cedar?

By Ayaan Dahir, Engage Minnesota

What people fail to understand is that Somali youth have a right to discuss, question, organize, and protest.

 

As many of you know, on sunny Saturday afternoon, the West Bank Community Coalition held their annual block party. This year, musician K’naan Warsame would be in attendance. The event was set to take place in Cedar, a notable Somali community. K’naan was even scheduled to give a live performance.

His arrival in the Twin-Cities, which holds the largest amount of Somali diaspora worldwide, was met with concern. The Canadian rapper was promoting his new HBO drama series, which according to Rolling Stone, “will focus on Jihadi recruitment in the United States.” He is joined by the series executive producer Kathryn Bigelow.

Many are extremely concerned with the series potential portrayal of Somali folk, especially during the rise of hate crimes and surveillance. News of K’naan’s project comes on the eve of a historically unsuccessful initiative called Combating Violent Extremism(CVE). This program profiles Somali youth as “potential extremists” and uses institutions to surveil and monitor young kids. Nearly 50 Muslim organizations in the Twin-Cities issued the following statement in response: “It is our recommendation that the government stop investing in programs that will only stigmatize, divide, and marginalize our communities further.” The Somali community is largely against this program.

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Inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich?

By Fedwa WazwazEngage Minnesota

The camel sees all of the other camel’s humps but never his own.
–Bedouin Proverb

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Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, taught Muslims that a society should not “inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich.” This is not just an Islamic teaching–it has also been a teaching of those noble Americans who have nurtured our country to a higher understanding of human dignity and value.

Yet, with ISIS, we seem again to be forgiving the rich and focusing the brunt of our punishments on the poor.

In a newly aired PBS “Frontline” documentary, titled “The Secret History of ISIS,” produced by Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser, and Jim Gilmore examines how ISIS or Daesh came to be.  The documentary discusses how the US contributed to the rise of ISIS through many mistakes, as well as lies, told to create a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein so that we could make a case for Iraq.

Experts, including CIA officials, discussed how mistakes, lies and exaggerations were told along the path to a U.S. war on Iraq, which in turn gave rise to ISIS, also known as ISIL or Daesh.

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Flying while Muslim at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

By Lori Saroya, Star Tribune

Saroya_Lori_circleMugThe 4-year-old boy stood as still as he could. His knees were shaking. His arms were raised up high; “hands up, don’t shoot”-style. His eyes were shut tight. The lady with the purple gloves patted his head. Then she moved her hands down to his neck and shoulders. She patted his tummy and worked her way down. She touched him everywhere. There was a momentary pause when the little boy’s father threatened a lawsuit (he later told me that he knew there wasn’t a case). A fourth police officer was called. They were officially a scene. They were the Minnesota Muslim family traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit the Lincoln Memorial and the Natural History Museum.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is a hotbed for religious profiling. Some Minnesota Muslims would rather drive 7 hours and fly out of Chicago than endure the profiling, humiliation and degradation they are often subjected to at MSP. I can relate.

From January to April 2015, I took five domestic trips and one international trip. My visibly Muslim family and I were “randomly selected” for extra screenings every single time we flew out of MSP. It’s not random.

Sometimes the TSA agents are ignorant and rude. Like the agent who started patting my hijab after I was cleared by the full-body scanner. She had to “make sure there aren’t any explosives” inside it, she said.

Or the agent who wouldn’t let me pass security unless I removed both layers of my hijab and showed her my hair.

We all want to be safe while traveling. I fly frequently. I use carefully crafted language with my family before every trip, making a special point of saying how much I love them. I’m scared just like everyone else.

But profiling people based on their religious dress and religious names does not make us any safer. While TSA agents are fixated on hijabs, beards and Arabic names, they overlook concerning behavior that requires scrutiny.

Continue reading at Star Tribune…

Lori Saroya is a civil rights activist, nonprofit leader, writer and mother. She has received several awards and recognitions for her community work including a Congressional Tribute, the Governor’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans. She is writing her first memoir, a reflective piece on her identity as an American Muslim woman and the civil rights challenges facing her community.

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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.

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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 salbright@minnpost.com.)

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