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A personal story of surviving war in Somalia

By Saciido Shaie, Engage Minnesota

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As a young girl full of hope, I lost that hope the day I left my country of birth, Somalia. I want to share how I came to the US and left Somalia without my choice.

I remember leaving my home not looking back, not knowing what was going on. The only thing I knew was that something awful was happening and that people were dying, yet I didn’t know why. I was very scared, confused and did not know what to do.

As my family and I left with my aunt’s car, my eyes were glued to the window.  I watched the people on the street.  I saw injured people crying for help on the sidewalk, yet no one was helping, everyone was running. But one thing that I can’t ever forget was, as I was watching people on the sidewalk, running, carrying backpacks, and carrying their babies on their back, walking without shoes, there was a child maybe one-year-old sucking his dead mother’s breast. This made me cry for many days. I remember looking at the baby, and telling my mother to stop the car so that I can help the baby. I remember how devastated and shocked I felt. I still remember the red shirt he was wearing.

You see, it is not easy to forget such incident, how can I when I still see the sand and the dust all over his little face and the tears and the horror on his face. How can I forget the cry and the scene as if I am rewinding an old horror movie? But make no mistake, as it was, and still is a reality of my past that hunts me down up until now. I wish someone heard me when I called my mother asking her to stop the car and didn’t.

“Mom, please stop the car,” I keep repeating the same cry, and I thought maybe my mother didn’t hear me at all. Then again, I said, “mom, the baby, please let’s help him.”

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Governor Dayton discusses Syrian Refugees in MN

By Noor Qureishy, The Rubicon
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A flood of faces, a symphony of voices, weary but desperate to flee the insanity of their former lives, to run from the terrorism that has overrun their country. CNN reports that the United States has responded to the refugee crisis by allowing the admittance of 1,500 refugees (out of over four million that have fled Syria) since the civil war started in 2011, and has now committed to bringing in 10,000 more in 2016.

Although 31 governors have publicly announced their stance against the admittance of any more refugees into their respective states, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton will welcome refugees here. “To single out one group of people from one country who are fleeing terrorism themselves is just I think an extreme overreaction,” Governor Mark Dayton said. “To say that we’re going to prevent people from coming here, families and others who’ve been vetted carefully to me is really ill-advised. It’s not going to make Minnesota safer.”

Dayton believes that every necessary precaution should be taken when resettling refugees, and that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is doing just that with their vetting procedures.

The security process for refugees has been known to be extremely selective and rigorous; refugees are subjected to the highest possible level of security checks of any traveler in the U.S. They are also reviewed by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense according to Dayton.

Dayton believes that the statements made by governors in an attempt to keep refugees out of their states are at best, showmanship. “As a practical matter, unless you stop every car that’s driving across the interstate, you’re not going to be preventing people from moving from one place to another. It’s really just a lot of showmanship and pandering to the worst fears of people,” he said.

Continue reading at The Rubicon

Noor Qureishy is a third-year writer and 2015-16 In Depth editor for The Rubicon, the St. Paul Academy school newspaper.

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Minnesota advocate looks forward to serving on federal human trafficking council

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Bukola Oriola, a longtime advocate for victims of trafficking and domestic abuse in Minnesota, is looking forward to serving on the newly formed U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

“It’s unbelievable that I could get such a platform,” she said. “I see it as the highest platform I could have to really lend my voice to help victims and survivors of human trafficking.”

Oriola was among 11 council members that President Obama picked last month from states across the country to identify issues and make recommendations to the federal government on policies addressing human trafficking in the United States.

“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to serve our country,” President Obama said in a statement. “They bring their years of experience to this administration, and I look forward to working with them.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

New radio station aimed at Somali-Americans

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Minnesota’s youngest radio station, KALY 101.7-FM, aired its first news segment this week for thousands of Somali-speaking audience members in the Minneapolis area.

The low-power FM station — which is operated by the nonprofit Somali American Community — opened its doors in September, making KALY the first Somali-American station licensed by the Federal Communication Commission.

“Media is a powerful tool … and we need to be part of that power,” said KALY Executive Director Mahamed Cali. “You’ll be respected when you’re able to tell your own stories.”

Cali and his team of volunteers operate from a tiny south Minneapolis studio, but their service is making a mark on local community programming: The station broadcasts a daily mix of Somali music, Islamic lectures and Somali language talk programming throughout the day.

KALY’s mission, Cali explained, is to provide Somali-Americans with information about weather, important announcements, new laws that affect them and discussions about social issues.

Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia-based media justice advocate group, helped set up KALY station, which rebroadcasts the daytime programing at night.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Experts on refugee process dispel misconceptions about prospective Syrian immigrants

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Suzan Boulad has recently noted a new depiction of the Syrian refugees: America’s new enemy.

“Syrian refugees are painted as sort of this new threat,” said Boulad, a Syrian-American and a University of Minnesota School of Law student.

The debate on refugees escaping the deadly conflict in Syria began to unfold two weeks ago, after it came to light that one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on Paris may have sneaked into Europe on a Syrian passport.

This claim led some state and federal officials to call for more scrutiny of Syrian refugees. Until a tougher resettlement process is in place, the officials have proposed a pause in the plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States in the coming months.

“I think the presidential and other elections coming up have a lot to do with that,” said Boulad, whose aunt and cousins still remain in Syria. “There’s always a convenient scapegoat in society. It’s unfortunate that those political elements have a very real impact on people’s lives.”

Petition against Syrian refugees

Thousands of Minnesotans have also responded to the issue as they took to the Internet to sign a petition that accentuated their demand to keep Syrian refugees out of the state.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

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