We're always happy to read some good news about our stretch of the prairie being a neighborly place.
Two recent items in the West Central Tribune are must-reads in light of some national "leaders" trying to racket up fear of Muslims in America. Perhaps the most encouraging part of Linda Vanderwerf's article Muslims in Willmar say life here has remained peaceful, free of harassment, is the news from the local high school students:
Adults and students at the school work hard to communicate and be respectful of others, said Willmar Senior High Principal Paul Schmitz. “From my perspective, I know of no incidents related to what’s happening in the nation,” he said. “It hasn’t led to conflict at the high school.”
Muna Abdulahi and Fatuma Baraki are students at Willmar Senior High School, where they say all students are treated well. They are among the leaders of a multicultural student group Students Without Borders, which formed this fall and is open to any interested students.
“I feel like we’ve got a really great community here,” said Baraki, a junior.
Abdulahi, a senior, and Baraki said they have many different friends who know them and haven’t changed their opinions because of recent anti-Muslim political rhetoric.
“They don’t connect me with it, but we talk about it,” Abdulahi said.
Current events are sometimes discussed in class, too. “One thing I like about this school — we can have debates, but at the end of the day we’re eating pizza together,” she added.
The students said their families were shocked at what happened in California.
“Being American, those innocent people who were killed, those were my people,” said Abdulahi.
Baraki was upset by it. “I would like to see not so much terror going on,” she said. “Some peace would be fine; it’s like they’re making the whole world a scary place.” . . .
Go read the rest at the West Central Tribune. The paper's editorial board brims with civic pride in Willmar is working for the latest immigrants:
Muslims in Willmar are reporting that life in our fair city has remained peaceful and free of any significant harassment for them.
That is a good thing. We hope it continues. . . .
Willmar’s population is about 6 percent black, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The majority of that population segment consists of Somali refugees and immigrants. Many of the newcomers are now U.S. citizens. . . .
Our community is not perfect. There have been negative comments by some individuals in the school system and in the community, some out of fear, others out of ignorance and a few out of prejudice. One person made statements while flying a Confederate flag. Another demonstrated with a religious sign outside the mosque of the Islamic Society of Willmar.
The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech for all. . . .
As we all continue to live, work and play in Willmar, it is important to continue to communicate, talk with others and listen to each other. That will go a long way in dispelling misconceptions on all sides.
We all enjoy the peace, stability and opportunity of the community we call Willmar. And we are all truly fortunate to be here in this city.
Imagine that. From what we've observed while shopping in Willmar, the nearest large regional center to Bluestem's world headquarters in sunny Maynard, the reporting and editorial are spot on.
We highly recommend both dispatches to our readers.
Photo: Via the West Central Tribune: "Willmar Senior High School senior Muna Abdulahi, left, and junior Fatuma Baraki, both Muslims, believe they are accepted as individuals at school. (RAND MIDDLETON | TRIBUNE)"
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