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Archive for the ‘xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism’ Category

Refugee raised in Fargo may be first former refugee to commit terror act in US

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 19, 2016

internet

A 20-year-old 23-year-old Somali man by the name of Dahir Adan who was resettled in Fargo in the mid-1990s when he was 1-year-old has been identified as the attacker who knifed 10 people Saturday at a mall in St. Cloud, Minn.  An off-duty police officer shot and killed Adan during the attack.  All 10 of the victims were released from the hospital.  St. Cloud authorities said during a news conference that they are investigating the stabbing as a possible terrorist attack, and investigators have not yet found anything to link Aden to the Islamic State, though the group claimed him as a “soldier.”  Adan and his family moved from Fargo to St. Cloud around six years ago according to a woman in Fargo who knew the family. The Fargo Police Department reported that Adan never came onto their radar during his years there, and that there is no sign that any radicalization is occurring in Fargo. A board member of a mosque in south Fargo said his organization has worked closely with local police and the FBI to report anyone suspected of taking a fanatical route. Miami defense attorney Khurrum Wahid who has worked to integrate young American Muslims into American life, said in a 2011 splcenter article, however, that some police have approached young Muslim men and demanded they act as community informants, of suffer retaliation from police. Wahid said that police instead need to build trust with young Muslims by telling them that they are wanted in our communities, and by showing them that they treat “terrorism” from non-Muslims in the same way.  He points out that some Muslim youth are socially disenfranchised and searching for identity; that what can alienate young Muslim people is their interaction with the community around them. There’s a feeling of not fitting in, of being very different, especially vis-à-vis non-Muslims. It’s been worse in the last decade, with growing Islamophobia, as well as inflammatory statements coming from political candidates. Young Muslims can begin a journey out of compassion for injustices, perceived or real, committed against Muslims. Often this is combined with very little knowledge of the Koran and the teachings of Islam. Their hope to do something important and stop the injustice can lead them on a search for information, and when they don’t get it from local sources they go to the Internet. Wahid suggests programs like those used to fight gangs, with funds to help young people take part in positive activities.  Aid could also be used to assist American Muslim parents to help these young men through any identity crisis, and bring them back into the American fold.  An article at the Fargo Forum has the details from Fargo:

FARGO, N.D. — In the wake of a random stabbing attack at a St. Cloud, Minn., mall over the weekend, Fargo’s Somali community is trying to come to grips with the unsettling fact that the suspect grew up in the city.

The family of 20-year-old Dahir Adan identified him as the man who knifed 10 people Saturday night. All 10 have been released from the hospital, St. Cloud authorities said.

Adan, who was born in Kenya, and his family left Somalia as refugees and settled in Fargo in the mid-1990s when he was 1-year-old, said Fowzia Adde, a local Somali leader. Adan attended Fargo Public Schools until his family moved to St. Cloud at least six years ago, she said.

“If it can happen to them, it’s not far away from me, so what can I do to prevent?” she wondered. “What can I do to save my children?”…

The Islamic State has claimed Adan as a “soldier,” but St. Cloud authorities said during a news conference on Monday that investigators have not found anything to link him to the militant group. Though, just the possibility that a young man raised in Fargo was radicalized and committed an act of terrorism had local officials concerned.

“If it happens in St. Cloud, it could happen in Fargo,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

Chief David Todd said Fargo police gave the FBI basic information it had about Adan and his family. Todd said Adan never came onto the radar of Fargo police.

“I don’t have any indication that radicalization is occurring here in Fargo,” the chief said.

In a joint statement, Mahoney and Todd said residents should not react to the St. Cloud attack based on fear, rather they should be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity…

Adde called for the Somali community to work to steer youth away from groups like the Islamic State.

“We need to sit down, understand what’s going on with our children, help them understand who they are,” she said…

Dr. Mohamed Sanaullah, one of the…board members [of the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead, a mosque in south Fargo], said people who commit attacks in the name of Islam are not Muslims. He said the society has worked closely with local police and the FBI to report anyone thought to be taking a fanatical route… Read more here

Posted in alienation-isolation, discrimination, FBI, men, Muslim, North Dakota, police, right-wing, security/terrorism, Somali, St. Cloud, teens, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism, young adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Indiana argues that singling out all Syrian refugees not based on national origin

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 18, 2016

illogical

This is a head scratcher. Although the state of Indiana lost the court case over Gov. Mike Pence’s attempt to withhold benefits from Syrian refugees based on nebulous “security concerns”, it is now trying to appeal the case before the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago with the argument that singling out “Syrian” refugees has nothing to do with “country of national origin.” (???) A lower court ruled that the narrow focus on Syria was  unconstitutional; clearly discriminating against refugees from that country.  Soon after the Paris attacks last year, Pence cited a Syrian passport found next to one of the terrorists— now believed to be fake — as part of his supposed rationale to discourage any other desperate Syrian refugees from resettling in Indiana by denying benefits to Syrian refugees already in the state.  Think Progress has an interesting article explaining the oral arguments being made by Indiana (note: the two out of three judges questioning the lawyers in this article were both appointed to the court by President Reagan):

In a tense exchange with attorneys defending Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s order to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in his state, two federal judges sharply criticized the legal rationale behind the effort.

During oral arguments on Wednesday in Exodus Refugee International v. Pence — a court battle focusing on whether the state may prohibit the resettlement of Syrians on the grounds that they could be terrorist threats — Judges Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook objected to Indiana’s attempt to refuse assistance to people based on their nationality and country of origin.

“Honestly, you are so out of it,” Posner said. “You don’t think there are dangers from other countries?”

In a previous ruling, a lower court said the narrow focus on Syria “clearly discriminates” against refugees from that country, a perspective that Posner and Easterbrook appeared to endorse.

“When a state makes an argument that’s saying, ‘we’re differentiating based on whether someone is from Syria, but that has nothing to do with national origin,’ all it produces is a broad smile,” Easterbrook told Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher on Wednesday…

“Are Syrians the only Muslims Indiana fears?” Posner asked…

Soon after the Paris attacks, Pence cited a Syrian passport found next to one of the terrorists— now believed to be fake — as part of his rationale to stem the flow of Syrian refugees from entering the United States… Read more here

Posted in ACLU, court, discrimination, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Exodus Refugee Immigration, funding, Indiana, Muslim, security/terrorism, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Conservative Congress Members Threaten Government Shutdown

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 9, 2016

Congressional District map for "Freedom" Caucus membership of the 114th Congress. Former members in light color.

Congressional District map for “Freedom” Caucus membership of the 114th Congress. Former members in light color.

When a budget bill failed to pass through Congress in 2013 before the start of the new fiscal year, it led to a 16-day federal government shutdown which cost the United States $24 billion and left 800,000 people without pay. After that disgraceful failure a group of 42 conservative Congress members, known as the “Freedom” Caucus, are promising to support temporary spending measures in a bill that has to be passed to keep the federal government open, but only if it includes a suspension on allowing Syrians into the county. This, while the Obama administration is trying to work with Congress to increase the number of Syrian refugees resettled next year to 20,000, from the paltry 10,000 resettled in fiscal year 2016 ending this month; far fewer refugees than some of our allies.  Last year Canada resettled 30,000 Syrians and Germany accepted approximately 100,000 asylum applications in total. In the meantime, five million Syrian refugees wait in need.  An article at the London based Independent has the story:

Republicans in the House of Representatives in the US are promising to support temporary spending measures in a bill that has to be passed to keep the federal government open, but only if it includes a suspension on allowing Syrians into the county…

President Barack Obama promised to resettle 10,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria before the end of fiscal year 2016, meeting the target a month early. His administration is now working with Congress to increase the target by another 10,000 during 2017.

The move by the Freedom Caucus could complicate congressional leaders’ efforts to pass the spending bill on time before the fiscal year ends on September 30. 

When a similar budget bill failed to pass through Congress in 2013 before the start of the new fiscal year, it led to a 16-day federal government shutdown which cost the country $24bn (£20bn) and left 800,000 people without pay… Read more here

 

Posted in Congress, Obama administration, right-wing, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Arsonist gets 15-year sentence for Somali restaurant fire in Grand Forks

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 7, 2016

Matthew Gust

Matthew Gust

A federal judge imposed a 15-year sentence on a Minnesota man accused of starting a fire that heavily damaged a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks in North Dakota.  Matthew Gust, 26, of East Grand Forks, Minn., broke the front window of the Juba Cafe, owned and run by former refugees, and threw a Molotov cocktail into the building Dec. 8, 2015. He previously pleaded guilty to arson and a hate-crime charge. Gust ignited the fire, which caused over $150,000 in damage, days after a Nazi-like symbol was spray-painted on the restaurant’s exterior above the words “go home.” Other businesses in the building were also affected. In 2012 Gust plead guilty to charges of terrorizing, simple assault and preventing arrest, all Class C felonies, after he threatened staff at Romantix, an adult entertainment store in downtown Grand Forks (frequented by some men from the LGBT community). He also plead guilty to assaulting a police officer in 2011. An article at the Fargo Forum has the details:

FARGO — A man who set fire to a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks will spend 15 years in prison.

Matthew Gust, 26, of East Grand Forks, Minn., broke the front window of the Juba Cafe and through a Molotov cocktail into the building Dec. 8, 2015.

A federal judge imposed a 15-year sentence during a hearing Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2016, for Gust, who previously pleaded guilty to arson and a hate-crime charge.

According to federal prosecutors, Gust purchased gasoline, filled a 40-ounce beer bottle and through the Molotov cocktail into the restaurant. The Molotov cocktail exploded on impact, causing an explosion and fire inside Juba Cafe, which sustained more than $150,000 in damages… Read more here

Posted in crime, hate crimes, North Dakota, right-wing, security/terrorism, Somali, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where would Christianity be if Jesus had refused to participate “out of safety concerns”?

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 4, 2016

burningthebook

That is the question posed by pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  After a group of people in Gillette set fire to a Quran to publicize their goal to “ban Islam from Wyoming”, most of the more liberally minded churches in town did not respond to a concerned Gillette resident who organized a counter protest. Only three responded. They refused to take part “out of safety concerns.”  Though the counter protestors eventually outnumbered the holy book desecraters, a silence came from the governor, the state’s congressional delegation, members of the state Legislature and other elected officials.  An article at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle has the story:

…the website “Stop Islam in Gillette,” [boasts] 391 members. Their goal, though inelegantly expressed, is to “stop the islam invasion sponsored by mat meade and barrack obama. remove the mosque and islam school from gillette”…

Gillette members of something called “Americans For A Secure Wyoming” took it another step backward last weekend. They set fire to a Quran to publicize their goal to “ban Islam from Wyoming”…

…[others however] participated in a counter protest. Those who lit the fires of hate to burn the Islamic holy book were outnumbered more than 40 to 10 that day in Gillette. People of integrity from throughout Wyoming traveled to Gillette and held signs saying, “No room for hate” and “Don’t hate what you don’t understand.”

Even so, the silence coming from the governor, our congressional delegation, members of the Legislature and other elected officials, with a single exception, is as deafening as it is troubling. Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King was alone in her courage to speak against the haters.

The politicians weren’t the ones whose tongues were tied.

A concerned Gillette resident sought help from the “more liberally minded” churches in the northeast Wyoming town. Only three responded. They refused to participate “out of safety concerns.” Where would Christianity be if Jesus had refused to participate “out of safety concerns”?…

People seeking attention for their bigotry by desecrating the holy book of another faith should be met with loud, uniform public rejection.

Sadly, many Wyoming political, business, academic and faith leaders meet the bigotry with a wink and a nod… Read more here

 

Posted in Christian, churches, Muslim, Wyoming, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US resettled only 10,000 Syrian refugees this year while 5 million wait in need

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 2, 2016

 

syrians

This week the White House announced that the United States has met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year at the end of September. Yet, the accomplishment pales next to the reality that there are 5 million Syrian refugees seeking desperately needed help. Canada has resettled three times more Syrian refugees since last fall. If the US had instead granted asylum to 65,000 Syrians, it would be statistically akin to adding only 6½ people to a baseball stadium holding 32,000. An editorial in the Washington Post explains:

In an announcement Monday, the White House said the administration had met its goal of granting asylum to 10,000 Syrians in the current fiscal year, which ends in a month…

The modesty of the numerical goal is incommensurate with the weight of the challenge posed by some 5 million Syrian refugees, including roughly 1.1 million already in Europe. Measured against resettlement programs on behalf of refugees by Germany, France, Britain and other Western countries, to say nothing of those by Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, America’s own efforts are meager. Canada, with a population barely a tenth the size of the United States’, has resettled three times more Syrian refugees since last fall. And Washington’s goal for the next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1, is no greater than its goal for the current year…

As former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has noted, if the United States, a country of 320 million, granted asylum to 65,000 Syrians, it would be statistically akin to adding 6½ people to a baseball stadium holding 32,000. And notwithstanding grandstanding politicians who depict the refugees as a grave threat, many of those who have been resettled, in towns and smaller cities in nearly 40 states, say they have been treated well by their new American neighbors.

The political headwinds have more to do with xenophobia, especially regarding the Middle East and Muslims, and a generalized fear of terrorist attacks, than with any specific or real threat posed by Syrian refugees…

Previous waves of immigrants and refugees — Irish, Italians, Jews and Vietnamese — have been despised, feared and shunned by some Americans, much as Syrians are being vilified by some Americans now… Read more here

Posted in capacity, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Syrian refugee family scattered across world

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 20, 2016

world

A Syrian refugee family in upstate in New York who settled a year ago have found their family scattered across the world. Adult brothers and two older children are in Germany. A sick daughter is in Denmark.  Catholic Family Center apparently initially resettled the family into an apartment infested with roaches. Now that they have a new, infestation-free apartment, however, they find themselves far away from services.  An article at the Democrat & Chronicle has the family’s story:

They came here in July 2015, the very first Syrian refugees to settle in Monroe County…

they learned, they had been accepted into the United States. Their escape from Syria, then, would mean a continued lengthy separation from the rest of the family.

“Of course, I thank America for this humanitarian decision,” Bahzat said. “But I hesitated, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my children again. It was a very difficult decision. … But for the safety of my children who were with me — so they could be safe and study and be away from the war — we decided to come here.”

It was several months before they learned where in the United States they would be going. When they discovered it would be Rochester…

The family first moved into a rental house on Smith Street in northwest Rochester, but relocated to an apartment complex in Greece after a month.

Their Greece apartment has no cockroaches, a significant improvement. On the other hand, getting around with public transportation can be an hours-long affair. To go to the market or their English classes requires multiple buses.

“We were hoping to go to school for English as quickly as possible,” Bahzat said. “(But) we learn about 10 words, then because it’s so tiring with the buses, we just forget”…

Despite their infirmity and lack of English, Bahzat and Atie are expected to seek work or take more classes in exchange for the housing assistance, food stamps and small cash supplement they receive. Those benefits have been interrupted more than once, fraying their nerves. Dilan and their older son, Zana, have both found jobs.

The two younger boys, Zana and Delshad, enrolled in high school in Greece and made the honor roll. The state tests, though, were a disaster. The interpreter that the school provided spoke a dialect of Arabic they did not understand, so they failed in science and math.

They can retake the tests later this summer, but neither boy is prepared because; they have not been attending summer school because the district does not provide universal busing for it and they had no other way to get there…

Generally, the family says they have been welcomed warmly by people they meet. But Dilan, who keeps her head covered, said she has received curses and dirty looks.

“People here shouldn’t judge me regarding my scarf or my clothes; it’s just a part of my religion, and it shouldn’t bother anyone,” she said. “I have heard some people saying bad words (and) staring at me like a stranger. I’m like, ‘What did I do?'”…

Bahzat and Atie’s eldest daughter in Denmark has multiple sclerosis and recurring brain inflammation that sometimes paralyzes her left side, another worry that keeps them awake at night.

“My daughter is sick and I can’t even see her,” Bahzat said. “For a parent, that’s really difficult”… Read more here

Posted in Catholic Family Center (Rochester), rats and roaches, Rochester, Syrian, transportation, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Portland ME mayor tells Somali residents they are wanted and needed

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 13, 2016

 

protest

After a recent hate-filled speech in Portland by presidential candidate Donald Trump a rally was convened to speak out against the bigotry. Mayor Ethan Strimling, speaking before several hundred residents, said Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution showed when he spoke, and the mayor embraced those who were offended by the candidate’s remarks. An article at The Forcaster has the story:

PORTLAND — After 20 years in Maine, Mahmoud Hassan has wearied of suspicions cast against Somali immigrants.

“It feels weird, it feels ridiculous, but then again, I am not surprised,” Hassan said Aug. 5 about comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggesting Somalis are a threat to public safety.

As president of the Somali Community Center of Maine, Hassan called for a public response to Trump’s words that grew into an Aug. 5 City Hall rally attended by more than 300 people.

“I don’t think there is a misunderstanding,” Hassan said of Trump. “I think there is political opportunism”…

200 people lined the City Hall steps behind him, some waving copies of the Constitution, Hassan left most of the talking to Somalis who have assimilated in Maine and had little use for insinuations made the day before.

“Shame on you, you are running for the highest office in the land and spreading hate,” Deering High School Assistant Principal Abdullahi Ahmed said…

Mayor Ethan Strimling said Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution showed when he spoke, and the mayor embraced those who were offended by the candidate’s remarks.

“You are welcomed and cherished here. We need you here, so thank you for being here,” he said… Read more here

Posted in discrimination, Maine, right-wing, Somali, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Most Syrian refugees coming to United States are women and children

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 12, 2016

women-children

Right-wing politicians, media and bloggers have been trying to distort the Syrian refugee issue by repeatedly beating the drum that most of the refugees are young men “of military age.” If one were to only to watch videos of Syrian refugees entering Europe one might believe that. Those refugees are walking or taking a boat into Europe the same way that Central Americans cross into the US.  Many of the Syrian men brave the boats to set up a footing in European countries before trying to bring their families to join them. Entry to the US via the refugee resettlement program, however, requires being approved by the US government, not walking or sailing across borders.  So far, of the more than 8,000 Syrian refugees admitted to the US so far, 78 percent are women or children, according figures released by the State Department this month.  Some 58 percent are children, with a roughly even split between girls and boys.  Public Radio International has the story:

In a November interview with Fox News, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had a question about the United States’ effort to accept Syrian refugees.

“It’s a total disaster. The people are going to come in,” he told commentator Sean Hannity. “I talked to you about this two weeks ago, where we talked about the migration, how so many of the people in the migration were strong young men. You look at them. I’m saying, Where are the women? Where are the children?”

Now, as it appears that the US will meet President Barack Obama’s goal of admitting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, the makeup of this new refugee population is becoming more clear.

Of the more than 8,000 Syrian refugees admitted to the country so far, 78 percent are women or children, according figures released by the State Department this month. Some 58 percent are children, with a roughly even split between girls and boys… Read more here

 

Posted in children, men, right-wing, Syrian, women, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How could the world sit by while millions of innocent people were killed?

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 11, 2016

halocaust

Why were 83 percent of Americans opposed to the resettlement of Jewish refugees during World War II?  The two main factors of this opposition were economic concerns and fear that communist infiltrators and Nazi spies would “sneak in” with the refugees. Does that sound familiar?  A commentary piece at the Times Argus explains:

The Holocaust. I feel confident that most people reading this column would agree that the Holocaust was an absolute atrocity, one which should never be allowed to occur again. More than 6 million Jews were wiped off the face of the earth during this horrifically dark period in history. If you had been alive during the Holocaust, would you have spoken out against the senseless killing of millions of people? Would you have taken action?

I think we’d all like to believe that we would have stood on the right side of history. But to believe that, we’d have to believe we were in the extreme minority of Americans at the time. The fact is, about 83 percent of Americans were opposed to the admittance of Jewish refugees from Europe during the Holocaust. Why were 83 percent of Americans opposed to the resettlement of Jewish refugees during World War II? The two main drivers of this opposition were economic concerns and fear that communist infiltrators and Nazi spies would “sneak in” with the innocents. Sound familiar?… Read more here

Posted in discrimination, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »