West Bank residents gather to show unity against terrorism

Abdel Shakur

Gathering in the Brian Coyle Community Center, residents of the Cedar-Riverside Community made a stand for unity on Saturday night.

More than 100 people made it out for United We Stand, an evening that focused on community emotions following last month’s attacks on the United States.

Nuro Dedefo, president of Oromo Community of Minnesota, was among the civic and community leaders at the event.

“We are here to show our solidarity and our sadness with the terrorist attacks. America has been a special place for Oromo people,” he said.

Dedefo said a war on terrorism was an especially important issue for Oromos who fled Somalia because of what he termed “state-sponsored terrorism.”

“We are against all forms of terrorism, whether individual- or state-sponsored,” he said. “We need to find a lasting solution for all the peace-loving people of the world.”

Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, who also spoke Saturday night, said the rally was significant for many reasons. “When you look around, you see young people representing many cultures standing together as one Minneapolis – standing together as one nation.”

Sayles Belton said Minneapolis’ diversity is an important asset and called on everyone in attendance to make a commitment to ending intolerance.

“It is wrong to condemn groups for actions of individuals, and it won’t be tolerated,” she said.

Although the mayor praised the crowd for unified stance, she said there is still a need for continued unity, even in times of peace.

“This community was not always united. We need to continue this even after all this is over with,” she said. “We need to set our differences aside and recognize our common bond.”

The rally was sponsored by community groups and local
organizations.

University sophomore Ifrah Mohamed said although she has not personally encountered discrimination since Sept. 11, she has a friend who is scared to ride the bus, fearing harassment.

Mohamed said the rally was important because it was a clear message of support from the African community.

“People need to understand that not all Muslims are terrorists,” she said.

Cedar-Riverside resident Alebayehu Baisa agreed.

“We Oromos totally condemn these attacks,” Baisa said. “We grieve and stand by our American brothers and sisters.”

Baisa said that, as a result of their own experiences with terrorism, the Oromo people have a special understanding of the American situation.

Baisa said he hoped the current situation would help create a dialogue about the effects of American foreign policy.

“American foreign policy has, at times, supported terrorist regimes. We have to oppose all forms of terrorism,” he said.

Eleven-year-old Abus Ali, whose family fled Somalia when he was 12 months old, said he was personally affected by last month’s attacks.

“I was very sad when I saw it happen,” said Ali. “It showed me that war can go to any country.”

“It makes me feel better. Like we could all come together,” he said. “It makes me feel like we could have peace.”

 

Abdel Shakur covers West Bank
neighborhoods and welcomes comments at [email protected]