Community activists hold press conference and rally in defense of Somali youth following recent sentencing

Photo credit: J.D. Duggan

A press conference and rally was held on Wednesday, Nov. 16 to oppose the sentencing of nine Somali-American youth. Earlier that day, Judge Davis sentenced 3 of those young men, Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud to thirty years, and Guled Omar to thirty-five years, in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization along with other charges.

“These young men have hurt no one. We know they were convicted of nothing more than thought crimes,” said Jess Sundin, a community activist with the Anti-War Committee.

She stated that the men will suffer unimaginable penalties due to exercising their democratic rights, which is a response to the other 4 Somali men taking a plea deal and getting significantly more lenient sentences.

“I’ve never heard for a judge to make boys say that the essence of their identity is ‘terrorist’” said Ayan Farah, mother of Mohamed and Adnan, one of the others who had been previously sentenced.

The rally, consistent largely of Somali-Americans and local community activists, was stating that the men were punished too harshly and that the FBI committed entrapment to make a case against them.

“When you convict somebody based on an ideology, now you’re attacking the Constitutional right of a citizen,” said Burhan Mohumed, a community organizer, “[the feds] are the real enemies of democracy. Judge Davis knew these guys weren’t a threat.”

Among chants of “Judge Davis is biased,” the anguish of the community members was palpable, with many tears being shed throughout. Tensions rose momentarily when some of the Somali men in attendance told the reporters to turn their cameras off, one trying to grab a video camera.

“What it means to live and express justice is that we don’t give up on people, that we don’t believe they are evil, that they are irredeemable. The judge said many times that there is no hope for them as human beings.. they deserve to go away in prison for a long long time,” said Matthew Palombo, faculty member of the philosophy department at MCTC and faculty advisor for the Muslim Student’s Association, “That is the epitome of treating somebody without dignity or humanity at all.”

Judge Davis will be filing extensive paperwork explaining the reasoning behind his rulings, which is expected to be made public sometime next week.

1 Comment

  1. The community should look inward and ask themselves:
    1. How did we help create these aspiring terrorists who were trained in our homes, Quran schools and mosques and spent almost all their time associating with our close-knit community? Why is the mother of two of the terrorists crying foul when she is the one who raised sons who tried over and over to join the most savage terrorist group in the world?
    2. What about Somali culture makes our youth so vulnerable to groups like ISIS and Al Shabaab? Why is nearly half the country we left under the control of an Islamic terror group that our youth have flocked to in droves?
    3. What does our aggressive behavior during the court case and now towards journalists and observers say about us as a community? Why did we let one of our youth hold a sign with a Crusader cross taking the place of the letter “t”? Is this the way we treat the host country who took us in and largely pays for our comfortable way of life in the US?

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