MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A prominent Somali community group is turning down a half-million dollar federal grant because of President Trump’s controversial refugee plan.
Ka Joog — a youth group devoted to combat terror recruiting — received the Department of Homeland Security grant just a few weeks ago. It was part of an experimental program called Countering Violent Extremism, which is designed to boost local efforts to prevent terrorism.
It’s the president’s temporary ban on refugees entering the country from seven predominantly Muslim nations, including Somalia.
Ka Joog’s executive director says the group had been working for years to get the grant, traveling to the White House and testifying before Congress.
“I think the president is against who we are and he has shown that,” Mohamed Farah said.
The group has received awards for its outreach that includes recreational and educational opportunities for local Somali youth, all aimed at preventing terror recruiting.
“I know it’s a lot of money but it all comes down to principle. They are promoting a cancerous ideology that is promoting divisions and we don’t want to be a part of that,” Farah said.
Minneapolis City Councilman Abdi Warsame has been inundated with emails and calls from worried Somali. He is praising Ka Joog’s rejection of the grant.
“I applaud them. I think they did the right thing. The Trump administration has in a way declared war on the Muslim American Community with the ban and the restrictions,” Warsame said.
But one vocal community activist is critical.
“The community desperately needs the money,” Omar Jamal said.
Jamal says while he doesn’t like the President’s policy, he says Somalis should consider working with the administration.
“That is the only administration we have in place. That is the government of the land now,” Jamal said.
But Ka Joog’s Mohammed Farah says the reaction to their announcement from within the community has been overwhelmingly supportive.
One other Minnesota group, Heartland Democracy, also received one of these grants. Theirs was for $165,000. We reached out to them on Thursday, but have not heard back.