Event hopes to demystify local Somali communityby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
A coalition of Somali-American organizations will host an event tomorrow at the Minneapolis Convention Center in response to the barrage of bad news about their community.
St. Paul, Minn. — One of the organizers is Augsburg College student Hindia Ali. She said she wants to help demystify her community.
"The past six months, the Somali community has been getting a bad representation in the media here," Ali said. "We just want to shed light on the positive side of the Somali community. We have dual identities. We are Somali-Americans. We are good citizens. Many of us have businesss here that contribute to the economy."
Speakers will also address an ongoing investigation into a number of young Somali-American men who are thought to be fighting with Islamic extremists in their homeland. Law-enforcement officials have been questioning Somalis and have detained them at airports. Some people have complained that they were intimidated.
Ali says she knows that the agents are doing their jobs, but she says some of their tactics have been intimidating.
"So we just want to let our elders and our Somali community know that they do have rights," Ali said. "They do have rights to speak for themselves, they do have rights to get a lawyer ... and not be intimidated by anyone."
FBI officials have said they're talking to people in the community as they try to find out who, if anyone, led the young men to fight in the Horn of Africa. Some Somali-Americans in Minnesota have testified before a federal grand jury in Minneapolis.