“Islamophobia” in one state

Minnesota’s Somali community presents a stark challenge to Americans concerned about terrorism. The community is Muslim, large, and protected by an extreme form of ideological conformity that runs from the governor down and permeates the media. In this month’s story on the indicted ISIS wannabe and local ringleader, reporters Dan Browning and Mary Lynn Smith add this editorial observation:

Minnesota is believed to have produced more would-be foreign fighters than any other state, but it also has a Muslim community that’s exceptionally engaged with efforts to counter extremism. Word that another Twin Cities Somali-American was being charged spread quickly Wednesday night in Minneapolis.

“This is deju vu all over again,” said community leader Sadik Warfa. “The safety of this country is a concern for all of us. … We’re hoping this case is the last, and we can all move forward where these kind of things don’t happen.”

But Warfa said he wants to know why Warsame is being charged now: “Did the government get new evidence?”

So far as I can tell, Warfa’s support for law enforcement is invisible. Warfa’s comments to the Star Tribune certainly express no such support, though reporters Browning and Smith seem not to notice. Maybe they need another reporter or two to lend a hand.

Here Warfa warns of a backlash against Minnesota Somalis:

“This sort of thing takes our eyes off the big picture,” said Warfa. “The big picture is really that first of all the 1.7 billion people of Islam cannot be on trial on the actions of a few and we feel like our community, we have been sometimes, really, there is a lot of fear-mongering going on and a lot of, I think, that is backlash we would always be very concerned.”

On a day when GOP candidate Donald Trump called for banning all Muslim immigrants, Warfa praised President Barak Obama’s speech to the nation Sunday night.

“We, as Muslim-American community, are very proud of our President last night,” said Warfa. “The speech he gave to American people when he addressed, because he spoke and said what needed to be said and that is, first of all, we do not want to divide us as Americans. We do not want our neighbors to have suspicion on their fellow Muslim-Americans. I think that is what the terrorists want. They want to divide us.”

Warfa insisted that the real issue is gun violence and the availability of assault weapons.

And here Warfa serves as translator for the mother of one of the indicted ISIS wannabes charged in Minnesota this past April. She protests that he is innocent: “He has not committed any crime,” she said through Warfa. “Why does he have to take a [plea] deal?” She also protests the conditions of his confinement as unduly harsh:

Fadumo Hussein’s son, 20-year-old Guled Omar, is being held in the Ramsey County Jail.

The five co-defendants are scheduled to stand trial on terror charges in February.

Hussein says this is especially difficult for her family because of the loss of Guled’s older brother, Ahmed Ali Omar.

Ahmed Ali Omar has been a fugitive since 2009 and has been charged with fighting for al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Hussein is a single mother of 13 children. Through translator Sadik Warfa, she spoke out Monday against what she says is the harsh treatment of Guled in the Ramsey County Jail.

“He is suffering greatly at this moment,” she said through the interpreter.

Guled Omar’s attorney has written two letters to federal Judge Michael Davis, complaining that his client is the only one of the five defendants being held in solitary confinement and “is not allowed access to television or reading materials.”

“The only thing she can assume is that they are putting him under pressure so he can take the plea deal,” Warfa said.

What a family. The mother is at best a tool. The older brother is absent, probably fighting the jihad with al Shabaab in Somalia. The younger brother sought to augment the ranks of ISIS in Syria with fellow “Minnesotans” and join in himself. And mom has 11 more at home. But we are to suppress rude thoughts and stifle critical comments lest we be found guilty of “Islamophobia” and invited by the governor to move to another state.

While the Somali community’s support for law enforcement is questionable at best, its support for community members charged with supporting terrorist organizations is highly visible. Yet the Star Tribune goes out of its way in a news story on this month’s charges against the former airport employee who recruited here for ISIS to state as a fact that “Muslim community that’s exceptionally engaged with efforts to counter extremism.”

In the Star Tribune column “Islam and Minnesota: Can we hear some straight talk for a change?” I dispute the proposition and invite discussion. In Minnesota, we really need to crack open the Overton Window that applies here.

Please check out the column and leave a comment at the Star Tribune if you might be so inclined.