MSA holds conversation on terror charges


The Muslim Student Association invited the MCTC community to a forum on recent terrorism charges. (Photo: Chris Juhn/City College News)

By Alison Bergblom Johnson/[email protected]

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) held a forum on April 28, to allow students time to listen to each other’s stories and address the recent arrests of young men who were MCTC students on federal terrorism charges.

“Last week six young Somali students were arrested on allegedly trying to join ISIS in Syria. Four of these young men are [or were] students here at MCTC. They are a part of our family, our friends and our loved ones. There have been rallies for their freedom and we hope for justice. Their families are facing untold hardship and discrimination and we ask all Minnesotans to support them in this crisis,” said Muslim Student Association co-adviser and faculty member, Matthew Palombo.

“We are tired of the rampant racism against black and Muslim people in Minnesota. We are tired of federal agents using thuggery, intimidation and paid informants to create fear and violence in our communities. We are tired of politicians and pundits who exploit minority communities for political platform,” Palombo said in his introduction, “We are tired of our youth being seen as a psychological experiment.”

The following words from the Quran were projected on a screen above the panelists before the event: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor! for Allah can best protect both.”

The room was packed. Students including those involved with the anti-violence program Green Dot and Student Senate President-elect Robert Ellis attended and expressed support for Somali and Muslim students. Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa attended but did not speak during the question and answer time.

A student named Ibrahim who stood up during the question and answer time, said “one [of the young men arrested] went through hell and back for me. The least I could do was start to get his mom on her feet.” He created a GoFundMe for the young man’s mother. However, the page has been removed from the crowdfunding platform, and Palombo later said it was removed by GoFundMe.

Another attending student, who is white and Muslim asked what could be done about the terror recruiting problem. However, students spoke more of infiltration by FBI agents into the community and surveillance. A student on the panel, Asiya Youngmark, attended some of the court proceedings in this case, and noted that the FBI admitted to surveilling the Muslim community. Youngmark said she was not surprised by this. She said “As an American Muslim I’m not surprised at the idea of government surveillance.”

Shavkat Metekov, current tabling coordinator for MSA as well as a past president said that at one of the mosques there was a new person who was targeting youth for private conversations. The imam called the FBI and was told “We’ll deal with it.” Metekov found it strange that the FBI never asked for a description of the individual they promised to deal with. He implied the individual was an informant.

Metekov said that “It’s scary to be Muslim in this kind of environment.”