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Jamal Abdulahi runs for Congressional District 5

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

When two Somali-American Muslims compete for the same Congressional Seat, it is a measure of the healthy political growth of our community.

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Once upon a time, when a Muslim ran for office or Congress – they were up against a tornado of hatemongers, having to prove they are not tied to extremists and an opposing candidate who used their Muslim faith against them.

In Congressional District 5 (CD5), we have something new.  Minnesotans just love to lead in opening doors.  Congressman Keith Ellison who held this seat, left to run for Attorney General and a few candidates are running for CD5.

The excitement is we have two Somali-American Muslims competing with other candidates for this seat.

  • Jamal Abdulahi
  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher
  • Frank Nelson Drake
  • Ilhan Omar
  • Patricia Torres Ray

Wow!  This reminds me of when Norm Coleman and Paul Wellstone, both Jewish, ran for the same Senate Seat.  It is great to see more than one candidate running for the same seat.

Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first and only Somali-American lawmaker is running.

Jamal Abdulahi, a community activist, blogger, and the founder of Somali-American DFL Caucus officially launched his campaign to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District as well.

Like many Somalis, Jamal’s story is a story of struggle, overcoming obstacles, working hard and giving back to the community he loves.

To learn more about Jamal Abdulahi’s campaign visit Jamal for Congress or join his Jamal for Congress Facebook Page.

Jamal shares that “on arriving in America, he took a Greyhound from California to Minnesota, worked minimum wage jobs to put himself through school and when he became eligible transferred to the University of Minnesota’s prestigious Institute of Technology and earned a degree in electrical engineering.

As committed DFL’er, Jamal has knocked on thousands of doors, chaired a committee charged with making recommendations on updating the DFL’s technology infrastructure and founded the Somali-American DFL Caucus which has taken as its mission to organize one of Minnesota’s most politically marginalized communities.

As a community advocate, Jamal has written extensively about the Somali community for mainstream publications and worked closely with legislators to draft legislation addressing gaps in mental health care, medical professionals trained overseas to be re-certified in Minnesota and a pilot program at Augsburg College to help inspire teachers of East African heritage to become licensed educators.

Jamal earned his M.B.A. while working full time and raising a family and developed his policy and leadership skills as a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

Jamal and his wife Sahra Ali are raising four daughters and continue to serve the community just as Jamal has done his entire adult life.”

Try to engage all candidates and invite them to Somali and Muslim get-togethers to encourage more Muslims and Somalis to participate and vote.  I think the best way to advance the conversation when a Muslim or Somali runs, is to have more than one candidate running for the same seat.  This will highlight the issues they want to address instead of focusing mainly on responding to bigotry and Islamophobia.

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She was the chair for the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota.  She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.  She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

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© Copyright 2005-2018.  Fedwa Wazwaz, All rights reserved.

Trump’s attack on Somalis illustrates the harm he could do

By Jamal Abdulahi, Star Tribune

And Minnesota’s GOP leaders have a moral duty to speak out.

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Donald Trump, who plans to visit the Twin Cities on Friday, recently unleashed a hateful attack on Minnesota’s Somali community in a speech delivered to a large crowd in Portland, Maine. It was beyond the pale.

Trump’s attack inspired more attacks. A hateful message left on the Somali Museum of Minnesota’s voice mail is the latest example.

Unfortunately, state Republican Party leaders such as Chairman Keith Downey, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and U.S. Reps Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer not only remain silent but continue to support Trump for president.

The unabated support by the top state GOP brass is a moral scandal. To preach of outreach and a possible partnership with the community while tolerating Trump’s outrageous attack is tantamount to moral turpitude and could lead to catastrophe.

Partisan politics is far from pure. Party leaders often accommodate fringe elements in the spirit of building a big political tent. But Trump is not a fringe figure in a large political party. He is an unhinged and dangerous nominee who hijacked a major American political institution and uses the power and the prestige that came with it to attack vulnerable groups.

Continue reading at Star Tribune

Jamal Abdulahi of Rosemount, is a community organizer, blogger and essayist.

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.)

Somali-Americans react to Obama’s final State of the Union address

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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On a typical weeknight, the four flat-screen TVs inside the Capitol Café in Minneapolis buzz with European soccer matches, basketball games and reality shows.

But that wasn’t the case on Tuesday night. The coffee shop was packed with scores of Somali-Americans who braved the bone-chilling cold to watch President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.

Those at the gathering included local political figures, educators and activists who came to learn about the president’s legislative agenda and national priorities — especially immigration and Muslim issues, which have recently dominated the headlines.

During his speech, the president painted a hopeful picture of the country’s future as he highlighted the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the recovering economy and his strategies to dismantle al-Qaeda leaders.

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.)

Why a Minnesota cop spent a year in Somalia training Mogadishu police

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400Waheid Siraach sees it this way: Terrorism problems should be dealt with overseas to keep radicalization and recruitment in Minnesota at bay.

That conviction led the Metro Transit detective sergeant to take a yearlong leave of absence from his job in order to train Somali police forces in the capital Mogadishu — and to promote public safety in his native country.

“I believe that if Somalia is not safe, nowhere is actually safe,” said Siraach, who in 2013 became the first Somali-American sergeant anywhere in the United States. “What happens over there can come to us and assault us here. So, if we can take care of the problems there, we don’t have to deal with it over here.”

Somalia has seen more than two decades of violence and anarchy that gave way to streams of local and foreign fighters of al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked group who controlled parts of the war-ravaged East African country.

Eight years ago, al Shabaab lured more than 20 Somali-Americans from Minnesota, getting them to fight against the fragile Somali government, guarded by troops from the African Union. This then-unprecedented recruitment shocked the Somali community here and sparked an alarm in the U.S. intelligence agencies.

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.)

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.)

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