Once upon a time Somalia was the land of poets, it was the land that people far and wide traveled to just for vacations. We had a good government, an atmosphere that was peaceful, and people that treated one another as though they were blood. Somewhere along the lines though something changed, something devilish entered our country and struck one against the other. As the civil war raged on it was during that time many families were running away from the only home they once knew. As you know war affects families by devastation. War has always taken a toll. Accounts throughout history tell of nightmares and other emotional problems associated with the horrors of war. I have read many books, and essays about war yet I came to learned that all of the war stories including my own experience about war are the same. As a victim of war, I know the pain of war and the affects and the cruel impact it has for society. In 1990, a civil war broke out in Somalia, after a failed attempt by the people, to overthrow the former president, Said Bare. Many families ventured to other parts of Africa, and beyond. As for me my journey began in America. America was to become my new home; it was to become a new beginning, and one that would help me grow into the person that I am today. However, I will never forget about where I am from, the history of my country of Somalia, or the trials that lead me to come to my new country of America. I thank Allah for where I started my journey and where my journey has brought me. The American melting pot was in the works since the immigrants began to arrive on the shores of America and today is not different. Every year new immigrants come to America, leaving their country without their choice, running from violence, war, hunger, and luck of opportunities to integrate and assimilate and become part of their new homeland with their new distinct beliefs and culture. This is the American dream. This is what brought me to this beautiful country, a county where there are opportunities, education, safety, a law and order. The dream I lost due to the civilian war. As a Muslim woman living in this great country, I believe in the American dream that everyone regardless of religion, ethnicity, color, and income have the right to exercise that dream. Therefore, as a member of the American society, I am committed to the public ideals of unity and community, social and economic justice and peace at home and abroad. I believe in the virtue of hospitality, dialogue, partnership and openness.
As a Muslim East African woman, a mother, and a community advocate, women and women’s rights are dear to my heart. My mother raised me alone, saving me from harm. As a result, I am now living in the world’s most powerful country, the United States of America. I am educated, have a job, and a safe place to call home. Now, I have the power to stand with those who are making positive changes around the world particularly women. I have the power to speak against all forms of injustice. I am willing to raise my voice, and be the voice for the voiceless because that is my responsibility as a woman, a mother and as a human. However, in the last few years, it become very difficult for me to accomplish and exercise my responsibility. Though, most of us are great, genuine, welcoming and helpful people, there are a few who hate me and hate those who look like me associating my kind as an evil, terror, and a violence group who are in a war with the west and with America. I received many hate messages through social media and other places including public places. Those messages scared me so much that it threatens, frightens and shakes my harmony. Many times I question myself wondering why? Why me? I left my country without my choice left everyone and everything that I knew, witnessing the horror, and the nightmare of war as a young child. Nevertheless, after many struggle, stumble and potholes, I thought I finally made it through, but why I feel shaken and uncertain?
Few days ago, I received a phone call from a friend who informed me about an incident in St. Cloud city concerning a Somali man stabbing Shoppers at the Crossover mall, inside Macy’s injuring at least 9 people and died after he was shot by an off duty officer. As a member of the Somali community in the State of Minnesota, I was very sad angry and confused at the same time. I was sad because he injured many people, many innocent people, who went there to shop and take care of their business and certainty did not deserved to be stabbed by anyone. I was sad because, the victims were going through a lot, and so do their families. They were someone’s child, daughter, uncle, father, partner, friend and a neighbor. I know the horror of violence and I hate to know someone is going through that. Also, I was angry for that young man who committed this horrendous act. On the other hand, I was confused as to why he did what he did. Was he mentally sick or what? Those were the questions running through my head. I never once thought this was an act of terror, but after I watch the news, every outlet was saying terror, ISIS and Al-Qaida. Wow, just because he was Muslim? But when non-Muslim commit such act, that person in the eyes of the media, he is Mental, bipolar, or drunk. I mean seriously? Is this right? Fair and just? Treat others the way you want to be treated! I am not a terrorist, and America is my country. This is my home and I will never leave my country. This message is for those people that asked me to go back to my country.
In conclusion, what brought me to this great country was what brought those before me. Seeking a better life, opportunity and a new family, new friends, neighbors, and a new life, a better life. Guess what? I got and received that title, “an American Citizen,” and I am thankful, thankful to call you a friend, a teacher, and a community. Finally, I am asking all my American family to stand against injustice, Islamophobia being one. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”