This afternoon, about two dozen people presented a spirited defense of a Minneapolis mosque against rumors it had something to do with the disappearance of an estimated seven to 20 Somali boys, who may have returned to Somalia to fight on behalf of Islamic extremists.
"We condemn extremist ideologies," said Abdirashid Abdi (left above), a member of the board of directors of the Abubakar Assadique Islamic Center. "It is unfortunate that some individuals in the Somali community unfairly accused Abubakar Center to have links to the disappearance of the Somali young men. We strongly deny these unsubstantiated allegations. Abubakar Center didn't recruit, finance, or otherwise facilitate in any way, shape, or form the travel of these youth." (His entire statement can be found here).
Abdi said it was "difficult to know" how many Somali youth at the center have left to return to Somalia, or why they would. "Youth have a lot of resources, it's very hard to minimize the way they receive information," he said.
Abdulahi Farah, who coordinates youth programs at the center said the allegations are "victimizing young Somalis who are active in their community. We have made America our new home and we are grateful to the people of Minnesota and to the people of this country who give us the opportunity as young people to be educated here and make our lives here, but when a few people polarize us or make us think that sometimes we are not...every young people are being affected by this."
The speakers made clear that while they believe the Somali community "is united," they are convinced that the people responsible for the rumors are, themselves, Somali.
"What is at stake is your very existence," Murshid Barud of the Somali Leadership Council said, directing his comments to the Somali community. "This is not a simple allegation. It's not a simple thing that will go away in a day, a week, a month, or a year. It will affect the way we work and raise our children in the state of Minnesota. You have a choice: Either you fight against your own children and yourself, or you come out and tell the truth."
When I asked Barud what "individuals in the Somali community" he and others were referring to when pinpointing the source of the allegations, he identified the head of a Somali advocacy organization, whose leader is often cited as a spokesman for the Somali community.
MPR's Laura Yuen
will have had more on the story tonight on All Things Considered.
Finally someone is holding Omar Jamal accountable for his irresponsible and personal attacks on imams and the local mosque.
the Star Tribune has been riding this story on the front page for two days, but couldn't find any space in this morning's paper for details on the mosque's news conference?
Maybe they have already found their one reliable source? To be honest I was even surprised to see big media there, I was at a press conference for the Liberian DED issue on Sunday and apart from Mshale (African paper) only saw MinnPost.
I believe the mosques account on this story. People like Omar Jamal and Osman have no credibility in our community and the media should not be reporting their side only. I am not surprised the Tribune did not cover this although were given and advance notice of the conference. They would rather portrait the hardworking somali community as terrorists.
There's virtually no media working on Sunday.
That's sad, because for in some communities Sunday is the only day people are free.
Omar Jamal head of the SJAC has been a great leader in the Somali community and we all support him. we know damn well those who spreading rumors and Omar Jamal God bless bless him
Omar Jamal is not a trustworthy source. He totally plays the media and below is one of many examples.
Just look at how he goes from "we have nothing, no clear evidence connecting those kids to the mosque" to "someone at the mosque was getting into the minds of these kids" in just two months! He is not a credible person.
Star Tribune: Somalis' holy trip ends at airport (November 30, 2008)
Rather, he said, he believes that the rumors about the mosque are an attempt by some in the community to tarnish its image. It's not unlike the division and infighting that has been going on in Somalia for decades, he said.
Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, said that on Monday, his organization will write a letter to the FBI asking for more information about why the men were not allowed to board their flight.
Jamal acknowledged that many rumors are circulating, but he said: "We have nothing, no clear evidence connecting those kids to the mosque. That is why I am concerned."
Newsweek: Recruited For Jihad? (January 24, 2009)
The disappearances have focused unwanted attention on Abubakar and sown tensions within the community. To date, no one has produced evidence that recruiting was underway at any mosque in the city. But several of the young men who left their homes attended prayers and youth programs at Abubakar, and some family members and community organizers believe there's a connection. The most outspoken of them is Omar Jamal, who runs the Somali Justice Advocacy Center. "Someone at the mosque was getting into the minds of these kids," he says.
Above is a great example of Omar Jamal's nonsense. In my eyes any news organization that solely relies on Jamal's words has flushed their credibility down the toilet with his.
The Somali Justice Advocacy Center is a one-man show and the media needs to realize that. He doesn't represent or act in the best interest of the Somali community, but of his family/tribe.
I heard there are talks about suing Omar Jamal for slander and defamanation. Him playing out his personal problems in the media is very childish and this type of behavior should never be tolerated.