Minnesota Somalis Being Stopped, Questioned
By Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio, 2/13/09
Ever since news broke a few months ago on the disappearances of young Somali men from the Twin Cities, local Somali residents say federal investigators have been randomly stopping people to ask them questions at malls, college campuses, and the airport. One civil-rights group representing Muslims in the U.S. has compared the questioning to a fishing expedition.
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The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has heard directly from 50 to 100 individuals who say they've been stopped by federal agents in recent months. The council has begun increasing the number of "Know Your Rights" presentations in the community.
SEE: Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim
Lori Saroya, who chairs the state chapter, said religious profiling is something that all Muslims have faced since 9/11, but some Somalis are just now beginning to encounter it. Saroya said the FBI's approach has intimidated some Somalis who have traditionally feared government because of the oppression they knew in their old country.
"We had one man who was walking on the street, and the FBI agent invited him into his car," Saroya said. "There was one agent sitting in the front seat and another agent in the back seat. According to him, he was bombarded with questions. He just answered "no" to everything. He was just so scared."…