Blog Archives

With social media, moms aim to end racism in St. Cloud

By Ibrahim Hirsi, St. Cloud Times

IbrahimHirsiIllo400Natalie Ringsmuth and Kelly Meyer have an ambitious plan for St. Cloud: to create a united community, despite longstanding racial and religious tensions between black and white residents here.

The idea struck the pair following the Tech High School incident in March, when more than 100 students — many of them Somalis — walked out of their classes to protest alleged discrimination and mistreatment.

As tensions grew at Tech, the flood of messages on the St. Cloud Times comment section left Ringsmuth and Meyer bewildered.

“It wasn’t until I read the comments that I really understood that this was highlighting a larger problem in our community,” said Ringsmuth, a Waite Park mother of three.

“When you come to this country and you’re told to go back to where you came from,” she continued with tears clouding her eyes, “how would you feel?”

Like Ringsmuth, Meyer said she was astounded how people reacted to the Tech incident and the misconceptions many had about Somalis.

“I feel like if you’re not speaking up and doing something to better it, you’re part of the problem,” said Meyer, a St. Cloud mother of two. “I didn’t want to be part of the problem.”

Continue reading at St. Cloud Times

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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‘We want to show our identity as Somali Muslim women — but also, we want to look good’

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400Sofia Hersi broke out into a smile.

A pair of customers entered her small clothing store in the Karmel Square mall in Minneapolis last week, and Hersi rose from her stool to walk up to the two young Muslim women, who were shopping for the weekend Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hersi welcomed the shoppers as they caught glimpses of an abaya — a loose, robe-like dress — hanging from the wall without a price tag.

“Where did you buy this from,” one customer asked, “and how much is it?”

“Abu Dhabi,” Hersi replied, “and that one is $70.”

Hersi, 27, opened her shop, Modern Closet, in partnership with her friend Istar Mohamed in April. Their aim was to cater to young Muslim women who had a taste for the traditional  — and for stylish clothing.

The store sells various items, including traditional dresses, scarves, handbags, clutches, sunglasses, rings and necklaces — some of them imported from the Middle East and others from New York and Los Angeles.

Older women have tended to dominate the female clothing market in the Twin Cities Somali community, Hersi explained. But in recent years, the industry has seen an increase in a new generation of entrepreneurs, who have joined the field to bring new, more stylish design ideas to young Muslim women.

Prior to opening Modern Closet, Hersi was a regular customer at Karmel Square. But she often came and went without buying anything, unsatisfied with what was around. “When I tried to find clothes in these stores, it was tough because most businesses were owned by older women like your mom and grandma,” she explained. “They were having a hard time finding what young women wanted.”

“Modern Closet is here to fill that void,” she said. “We want to be fashionable, we want to represent our culture and we want to show our identity as Somali Muslim women — but also, we want to look good.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

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.)

The Right to Food Threatened Worldwide

By Ramla Bile, Engage Minnesota

 

This month, Muslims across the world are observing Ramadan. In addition to its copious spiritual and personal benefits, the month provides an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the notion of freedom from hunger, and the extent to which the right to food is met locally, nationally, and internationally.

  Read the rest of this entry

Far, Far Away (from Muslims) You Say?

By Heba Abdel-Karim, Engage Minnesota

Heba Abdel KarimYou have an everyday link to Muslims. Yes, you do. You may not realize it, but there are many things we use in our daily lives that come from a “Muslim” background. From math and science to education and commerce, it may surprise you how much Muslim inventions have influenced the world, starting centuries ago and making their overlooked way into our day-to-day lives.

You were taught that the Greeks were the developers of trigonometry, right? Not exactly. Take out the word developers and replace it with “continuers.” Trigonometry was “developed to a level of modern perfection” by Muslim scholars, meaning that it’s of Muslim origin, even though the Greeks take the credit.

Such inventions vary from equipment, to concepts, to food, to science and medicine—you name it. Read the rest of this entry

Local Human Rights Award Recognizes Interfaith Work

By Autif Sayyed, American Muslim Community Center

Eden Prairie Human Rights Award
Representatives from the three churches
and Saleem Adam of American Muslim Community
Center, second from left.

On May 20, the City of Eden Prairie honored American Muslim Community Center (AMCC) and three churches–Eden Prairie United Methodist Church, Pax Christi Catholic Community and Prairie Lutheran Church–with its annual Human Rights Award. The award was in recognition of our participation in planning and executing the Interfaith Worship Service Program in 2006 and 2007. These events brought together hundreds of people of different faiths to celebrate the commonalities held by all and to promote peace, tolerance, and awareness.

The AMCC strives to create an inclusive community spirit through its activities and programs. We have achieved this by embracing diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. The reasoning behind this approach is very simple. Read the rest of this entry