MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Members of the Somali American community in Minnesota came together Friday to condemn the violent acts of al-Shabaab in Kenya, killing 67 people in a Nairobi mall last weekend.

The rally focused on expressing concerns about being associated with the terrorist group, as al-Shabaab claims Minnesotans were among the shooters, but there has been no confirmation of that.

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Dozens gathered on the lawn of Bryan Cole Center to spread the word that the Somali-American community is hardworking, productive and loyal to the country they now call home.

“We would like to tell our neighbors an colleagues in Minnesota to know how good of people we are, and how grateful we are of everyone in the state,” said Abdirizak Bihi of the Somali Advocacy Center.

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At 23, Siciid Ali has a master’s degree in public administration and he’s one of many who condemn al-Shabaab and reject its teachings.

“We feel like they’ve hijacked our community, they hijacked our people in Somali and they hijacked our religion,” he said. “And they use that as an excuse to hurt innocent people.”

To keep al-Shabaab away from its young people, members of the community monitor more than 200 websites designed to attract youth to the organization.

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Bihi said the attacks in Kenya are an effort to show al-Qaeda it is in control.

Reg Chapman