May 16, 2011

Indians and Somalis seek peace

Speaking of demonizing people, here's a story about Indians and Muslims overcoming their mutual distrust:

Widening the circle

Clashes between American Indians and Somalis living in the heart of Minneapolis' Indian country have given rise to a group seeking peace between neighbors.

By Allie Shah
The drum beat loudly as paradegoers in Minneapolis sized up the unlikely trio marching.

Three women--two Somali and one American Indian--walked arm in arm.

This small, bold act was designed to send a message to the American Indians and Somalis living near Franklin Avenue: We can and should be friends.

It's along this stretch of pavement, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, where a people who have been on this land the longest regularly bump up against a people who have only recently arrived.

Now, ambassadors from both communities are striving to move from animosity to friendship. Calling themselves the Native American Somali Friendship Committee (NAFSC), they meet monthly to speak frankly about the latest clashes and find common ground.

Group members say they've been through a transformation themselves since they started up last year.

"I was one of the top ones saying, 'I can't stand these people. They park in our parking lots. They stop in the middle of the road and talk to each other,'" said Mike Forcia, a committee member who runs the Wolves' Den cafe at the American Indian Center on Franklin. "Getting to know these people on a personal level has really changed that."
Comment:  The Indian distrust of Muslims is ironic since many people consider them both heathens and savages. Indeed, it's fair to say Muslims are the new Indians in our cultural landscape.

For more on Indian/Muslim comparisons, see Muslims Killed Thousands, Christians Didn't?!, Muslim "Tribes" = Indian Tribes?!, and "9/11 Mosque" = "Devil Worship." For more on the subject in general, see All Bigotries Are Similar.


dmarks said...

Did you intentionally mis-summarize the story, both before and after it? It was about Indians and Somalis, not Indians and Muslims. The parent article does not even mention Islam or Muslims, or even religion at all.

India actually has close to 150 million Muslims, making it the nation with the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world. 15 times as many Muslim people in India as there are total Somalis. So some of those Indians might well be Muslims, making the mis-summarization seem even more sloppy.

Rob said...

No, I correctly inferred what the article was about. Both from clues in the article itself and from my knowledge of Somalia.

Religion: Islam is the state religion in Somalia, and most of the people are Sunni Muslims. 90% Muslim, with a Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) minority.

Most Somalis are Muslims, the majority belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam and the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, although some are also adherents of the Shia Muslim denomination.

Christianity is a minority religion in Somalia, with no more than 1,000 practitioners (about 0.01% of the population).

Rob said...

I'm not sure why you're talking about India. Did the article even mention it?

No one said Somalia was the largest or second largest Muslim country. But it is a Muslim country. The article was about American Indians and Somalian immigrants, most of whom are Muslims.