Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump targeted Maine’s Somali Muslim community while making a point about immigration and radicalized Muslims. Trump told supporters at packed Merrill Auditorium in Portland that Maine is a “major destination” for radicalized Somali Muslim refugees and that they’re coming from some of the world’s “most dangerous places.” He said the nation’s acceptance of refugees “has to stop.”
Associated Press The Somali Muslim Community Center of Maine said the Republican presidential candidate’s remarks were damaging to the psyche of our youth to hear a major party presidential nominee insult our culture and religion, especially while standing next to the governor of our state,” the community center said in a statement. “We condemn his name calling, scapegoating and the lies perpetrated by his campaign.”
Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who supports Trump and has sparred with Somali Muslim immigrant groups in the past, introduced Trump at Thursday’s events. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Somalis began coming to Maine in the 1990s as part of a refugee resettlement effort in Portland. Integration was not without challenges. Laurier Raymond, then Lewiston’s mayor, told Somalis to stop relocating to the city in 2002 because of what he called a strain on social and welfare services.
A few years later, someone rolled a frozen pig’s head into a mosque, drawing widespread condemnation from the community and eventually criminal charges.
These days, it’s common in both cities to see colorful burqa-clad Somali Muslim mothers shepherding children around playgrounds, something no one would have fathomed decades ago in the state that still has the lowest percentage of nonwhites in the U.S. Other Somali Muslim welfare communities have grown in places such as Minnesota and Columbus, Ohio.
Young men in Minnesota’s Somali community have been targeted by terror recruiters in recent years, and three Somali men who were accused of plotting to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group were convicted in June of conspiracy. There have been no such arrests in Maine yet…but it’s only a matter of time.
In his speech, Trump said, “As Maine knows, a major destination for Somali refugees, right? Am I right? Well, they’re all talking about it — Maine, Somali refugees,” Trump said Thursday. “We admit hundreds of thousands, you admit, into Maine and to other places in the United States, hundreds of thousands of refugees. And they’re coming from among the most dangerous territories and countries anywhere in the world.”
His Portland appearance attracted a group of counter-demonstrators, including a handful of African immigrants. On Friday afternoon, Somali organizers held a rally on the steps of City Hall to respond to Trump. One read a statement from Sen. Susan Collins, a RINO Republican, that called Trump’s comments “disparaging” and “unhelpful.”
Unfortunately, the audio cuts out about halfway through this clip, but his condemnation of Somali Muslims is clear.