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'Proud Boys can't silence us' | Somali Minnesotans, Ilhan Omar respond to Trump statements

Saturday October 3, 2020

After President Trump's comments about immigrants at a rally in Duluth, Somali Minnesotans called for unity and accountability.

Qorsho Hassan, Minnesota's 2020 Teacher of the Year, spoke about racism and xenophobia in Minnesota and the nation.Credit: KARE
Qorsho Hassan, Minnesota's 2020 Teacher of the Year, spoke about racism and xenophobia in Minnesota and the nation.Credit: KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — At President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota Wednesday, he condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar and claimed that Joe Biden would 'inundate' the state with refugees.

On Friday, Somali community members and faith leaders met in Minneapolis to respond. 

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"Every election year, there is a playbook used by some politicians," Imam Hassan Jama, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Islamic Association of North American said. "The playbook is to use Muslims, Somalis, refugees and immigrants as scapegoats... in order to divide people by what they look like, or where they came from -- instead of offering solutions that could help all of our families." 

In the president's Duluth campaign event, he lashed out at Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee - as well as another congress member of color, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez.

"[Omar’s] been crooked for a long time. This is the least of it. It’s time, and you know what, AOC also. It’s time. It’s time. If you take a look at what they — the corruption, the disgusting corruption,” the president claimed in his speech on Wednesday. 

Trump also claimed refugees would come to Minnesota from "the most dangerous places in the world, including Yemen, Syria, and your favorite country, Somalia, right? You love Somalia. This guy loves Somalia," as the crowd booed. “Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp.” 

Omar did not attend Friday's Somali community news conference. However, she spoke on MSNBC about the president's recent statements, both at his Duluth rally and at the first presidential debate. 

"Our country is at a crossroads where we have to make a decision on a direction we want to go," Rep. Omar said. "And that direction has to be one that isn't the vision of the America that the president sees, but a vision of what America should be -- and the kind of America we want to live on."

Faith leaders from Jewish, Islamic and Christian organizations, as well as Attorney General Keith Ellison, attended the event. So did the 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Qorsho Hassan.

Hassan wrote about her own recent visit to Duluth on Twitter, saying that a group of white men in a pickup truck circled around her and chanted "white power" and "four more years."

At Friday's event, Hassan called for unity and accountability. 

"We need to come together and care for each other while celebrating and honoring our differences," she said. "The words of the president only divide us and showcase the deeply-rooted racism in our country. We need to speak up and say that hatred is not okay, and we need to hold each other accountable."

She also alluded to a white supremacist group called the "Proud Boys," which got a national spotlight after Tuesday's presidential debate. 

"Proud Boys can't silence us," Hassan said. "They can't suppress our votes, they can't stop us from voting, they can't stop us from fighting for equity."



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