Hussein Samatar was at the St. Paul Town and Country Club podium Friday pitching for donations for the Minneapolis-based African Development Center (ADC) he founded in 2003. He has a good story to tell: It’s now the nation’s largest African immigrant-led economic development organization, with eight locations and the creation or retention of 350 jobs and assistance to 3,000 clients to its credit.
Samatar could have stuck to his ADC script. But he is also a member of the Minneapolis school board, and a prominent figure in the city’s Somali community. He said he felt an obligation to speak out about events in northern Africa this week.
“It is a very unfortunate movie that was made about the prophet Mohammed," he said. "But what is much more hateful is for people to kill an ambassador who has been trying to help a country, in the name of Islam. It is a very sad day for all of us, especially for people in the Muslim faith. We have to stand up and really push back and tell them, ‘Of course we don’t want our prophet to be offended, but you don’t create violence in defending his name.'”
Samatar added that the Twin Cities Somali community sees the United States as “not a perfect country, but it is an awesome country.” He praised Minnesota as a place where “we are enabled to not worry about our rights being infringed upon, and can focus on housing, jobs, prosperity for all.”
He noted that economic growth on the African continent make it "a coming force to reckon with" for Minnesota. The same might be said in political circles about Samatar himself.
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