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Local Muslims Respond To Congressional Hearings

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Emotions were high during Congressional hearings on terrorism.

New York Rep. Peter King is the House Homeland Security Chairman. He said homegrown terrorism is on the rise, and Al-Qaida has built a strategy around luring young American Muslims to become terrorists.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison testified and broke down in tears telling the story of a 23-year-old Muslim paramedic — who died on 9/11.

“Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans,” he said. “His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans.”

Some local Muslims say Thursday’s hearings targeted their religion and not individuals responsible for terrorists activities. Members from several Muslim and Somali American groups gathered to watch the hearings.

Most were irritated by the fact that Islam seemed to be singled out.

“I also respect the way he’s pulling all these things together but I never wanted it to look like it was singling out one faith group,” said Hashi Shafi with the Somali Action Alliance.

Abdirizak Bihi is the director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center. He also testified.

“We’ve been hurt by other Muslims in our community,” he said.

His nephew, Burhan Hassan was killed in Somalia in 2009. He said the Muslim organization CAIR and members of the Abubakar mosque told them not to talk to the FBI.

“We never get help from our leaders, from our organizations,” said Bihi.

Lori Saroya, Minnesota CAIR president, said that’s not the case.

“He’s misinformed. His comment on how CAIR did not help him investigate this shows just how misinformed he is,” she said. “Our message was always cooperate, talk to the FBI, but protect yourself when you do.”

Many of the missing men attended Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Centre. The Iman and youth director were placed on the government’s no-fly list. They have since been taken off that list.

“There’s no membership account of whose coming or whose leaving. Yes, some of the kids attended the mosque but still we’re feeling the same way the parents and the Somali community feel,” said Hassan Jama, the executive director at the Mosque.

Sonya Goins, Producer
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