The Daily Beast reports: When police catch the man who allegedly burned down a Somali-Muslim owned restaurant in Grand Forks, North Dakota last week, their first task will be to determine his motive. Regardless of what authorities find, the arson feels like an act of terrorism to the Somali-Muslim community there.
Two days before Matthew Gust allegedly sent his 40-ounce Bud Light bottle filled with gasoline crashing through the window of Juba Cafe, someone had vandalized the restaurant popular with the Somali-Muslim community by painting a crude Nazi SS logo on the window with “go home” beneath it.
If Gust was not responsible for that act of vandalism, Grand Forks Police have another potential bigot to track down.
For the better part of a decade, refugees from Somalia, Burundi, Bhutan, and Iraq have been vetted by the State Department and given safe passage to Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. About 100 men, women and children a year come to Grand Forks, said Chuck Haga, a now-retired journalist and columnist who works with the Global Friends organization, which helps refugees assimilate in the area.
“These people, they’ve got nothing and all they want is a safe place to raise their kids,” Haga told The Daily Beast. “The Bhutanese especially are just overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity. Many of them have spent as much as 20 years in refugee camps, never having lived in their own country.”
Acceptance of the refugees has been mixed over the years, said Jaylani Hussein, director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Exacerbating tensions are anti-Muslim grassroots organizations, conservative talk radio hosts, and Usama Dakdok, an Egyptian Christian who profits from this Islamophobic cottage industry that provides North Dakotans with misleading information regarding Islam, Hussein said. [Continue reading…]