Minnesota Religious Diversity

April 20, 2007


Source: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly


BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Immigration by Hispanics is just one of many streams of newcomers to this country, some of them pouring into Minnesota. That Land of 10,000 Lakes, including the mythical Lake Wobegon, of lutefisk and Lutherans, is now home to many Muslims -- including the country's first Muslim congressman -- and many East African Somalis; also to Indian Hindus and Laotian Hmong. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Minneapolis.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It's not international flights that make Minneapolis-St. Paul International so international. It's the cab drivers. About three-quarters of the 600 drivers licensed at the airport are Somali immigrants, and airport officials say in too many cases they've been refusing to transport passengers carrying alcohol, usually in duty-free bags, saying their Islamic faith prohibits it.

STEVE WAREHAM (Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, speaking to panel): I believe we have 5,022 documented refusals over the last several years. It has been a serious customer-service problem.

JACK LANNERS (Metropolitan Airport Commission, speaking to panel): I too have received calls and emails from individuals that have been dropped off somewhere between the airport and their destination when it was learned through conversation that they had alcoholic beverages in their luggage.