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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.

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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.)

More young Somali-Americans are choosing careers in education

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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In recent years, Said Garaad has seen an increasing number of Somali-Americans in Minnesota who are choosing careers in education.

Most of those joining the field are young people who grew up in Minnesota and received their first taste of education in urban classrooms filled with immigrants and refugees learning the English language, said Garaad, School Success Program Assistant at Minneapolis Public Schools.

“These educators know what it means to learn in urban schools,” noted Garaad, who has been working with Minneapolis Public Schools for more than 10 years. “They’re now coming back to work in the same school system they left some years ago.”

Teachers, counselors, social workers

Many are getting their licenses in teaching, while others are becoming school counselors and social workers, explained Garaad, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in school counseling at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He said that he’s also aware of other Somali-Americans who are attending education programs in universities throughout Minnesota, training to join the 69,529 licensed staff in the state’s education system.

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.

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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.)

Press release condemning the horrific suicide bombing in Mogadishu

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America
504 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55454

Minneapolis, MN – October 4, 2011

PRESS RELEASE CONDEMNING THE HORRIFIC SUICIDE BOMBING IN MOGADISHU

The Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America strongly condemns the horrific suicide bombing that claimed many innocent lives in Mogadishu.

Abu Hurayra (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Every Muslim is forbidden from transgressing against the blood, property, and honor of another Muslim.” (Related by Muslim and Ahmed).

1. We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their brothers/sisters, children, parents, and relatives in this senseless attack in Mogadishu.

– May Allah grant His Mercy to those who were killed.
– May Allah grant swift healing to those injured in the blast.

2. This criminal act goes against the teachings of Islam and all human norms.

3. We also declare that anyone who blows himself up or commits suicide may earn Hellfire in the following three ways:

– Taking his own life
– Killing an innocent life that has not committed any wrongdoing
– Justifying the spilling of an inviolable blood

4. We call on the Somali people to extend urgent assistance to the people affected by this heinous act

Our success comes from Allah,
And peace be upon you,
Sheikh Abdirahman Sharif Mohamed,
President, Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America
 Email: shabraahin@yahoo.com; Telephone: (612) 558-5389