Trump’s comments about Somalis stir outrage from Minnesota to Maine

Donald Trump’s comments about Minnesota Somalis have drawn outrage among Muslim Americans in two states with large refugee populations.

At a rally in Maine last week, the Republican nominee quoted a 2015 Washington Times article about Minnesota’s resettlement of Somali refugees, saying the state has become a “rich pool” of potential recruiting targets for ISIS and other Islamic terror groups.

Since 2014, there have been at least nine Minnesota men arrested for allegedly plotting to join ISIS in Syria. In June, three — Guled Omar, 21, and Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, both 22 — were found guilty by a federal jury. Six others had already pleaded guilty to the terror charges.

“It’s happening,” Trump said. “It’s happening. You see it and you read about it. You see it. And you can be smart, and you can be cunning and tough, or you can be very, very dumb and not want to see what’s going on, folks.”

Minnesota’s Somali community — a population estimated to be at more than 70,000 — was quick to condemn Trump’s comments.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress, called Trump’s comments “nonsense.”

Trump is scheduled to visit the North Star State later this month.

“Donald Trump’s message has always been about using isolated incidents and terrorist attacks across the world to push his politics of fear,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota, said in a statement. “This community is thriving, and his remarks are really unfair.”

“I never thought he’d go there and blatantly call Somali-Americans a danger,” Mohamoud Ibrahim, a student at Inver Hills Community College, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It hurts listening to that.”

Ibrahim enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2014. “I want to serve my country, go to school and help out my family,” he said. “I am no danger to the community.”

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges slammed Trump too.

“Donald Trump, do *not* go after Minnesota and our Somali population. Just don’t,” Hodges wrote in a Facebook post. “You don’t have a fraction of the drive, purpose, community-mindedness, strength, courage, and value of our Somali community. Minneapolis and Minnesota would be a lesser place without our Somali neighbors. Is there poverty? Do they face challenges? Yes — many communities do — but theirs are multiplied by the kind of Islamophobia and racism you have made the hallmark of your campaign.

“You invite the crowd to ‘take a look at what’s happening in Germany,’” Hodges continued. “Indeed, I would exhort the American people to do the same, but to take a look at what was happening in Germany in the 1930s. Given who you are and the bile you vomit day after day it is a much more apt and useful reference point for where you want to take America.”

Abdi Warsame, the only Muslim on the Minneapolis City Council, told the Star Tribune that Trump’s proposed ban on all Muslims entering the United States has led to an uptick in hate mail sent to his office.

“That is the environment we find ourselves in,” Warsame said. “It’s frustrating.”

In Maine, Trump’s comments drew similar outrage.

“Mr. Trump’s statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful,” Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said during a demonstration outside Portland City Hall. “Maine has benefited from people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and, increasingly, Africa — including our friends from Somalia.”

At his rally, Trump suggested the resettlement of 12,000 Somali refugees in Maine has led to an uptick in crime.

“We’ve just seen many, many crimes getting worse all the time, and as Maine knows — a major destination for Somali refugees — right, am I right?” Trump said.

Wrong, local officials say.

“The Somalis have not caused any increase in crime,” Brian O’Malley, Lewiston’s acting police chief, told the Boston Globe. “They’re integrated here in our city. The Somalis come here because they want somewhere safe and good schools to raise their kids, and that’s what Lewiston has.”

“We have no problems here,” Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald said of the city’s estimated 7,000 Somalis. “We’re a very safe community. We all get along, and that’s it.”