Islamic Community in Minnesota Faces Growing Pains

May 18, 2007


Source: News Hour, PBS

Almost 50,000 of the growing immigrant population in Minneapolis and St. Paul are Somali Muslims, who have been arriving steadily since civil war wracked their home country in 1991. The NewsHour presents a report on the Muslim community's efforts at integration. FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent: Immigration from Latin America, Asia and Africa has brought new traditions and cultures to Minneapolis and St. Paul. They were once pretty homogeneous cities, says Satveer Chaudhary. He's the son of immigrants from India and the state's first Hindu legislator.

SATVEER CHAUDHARY, Minnesota State Senator: It used to be Swedes and Norwegians arguing over lutefisk or lefse. Now we've got Germans, Scandinavians now living in the same society as Somalis, and Hmong, and South Asians. And so these are all the growing pains of a growingly diverse society.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As many as 50,000 of the new immigrants are Muslims from Somalia. Many voted for the first time in 2006, helping Keith Ellison become the nation's first Muslim member of Congress.

FARHEEN HAKIM, Activist: I feel that the Muslim community, at least in Minnesota, has gained much more confidence than they had before. There were two Muslim candidates in 2006, and one actually won.