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After the South High fight, leaders from both communities met with the school principal. Bihi said the meeting did a lot to defuse the situation. It was possible because of the fence-mending done over the years, he said.
Tensions were high about six years ago, when Bihi and a group of Somali elders were invited to Salem Baptist Church in north Minneapolis to get to know a group of African-American leaders. “They fed us. They gave us good food — no pork,” Bihi said, appreciating their awareness that the vast majority of Somalis are Muslim and do not eat pork. “They were very nice. They had shown tremendous respect,” Bihi said.
Despite the tensions, interaction between the two groups also has led to some notable alliances. Last week, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is African-American, became the first congressional member to visit Somalia since the United States recognized the new government there last month.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488