Category Archives: Press Release

Creating tolerance and understanding of Islam in Minnesota

Recently, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans has witnessed “anti-Sharia” legislation introduced in several states that are a threat to religious freedom in the United States. In Minnesota, Senate File 2281, which was aimed at targeting Sharia Law, was recently introduced, then withdrawn during the 2012 MN Legislative Session.

In response to such legislation, Lori Saroya. President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota has stated, “Across the nation, similar anti-religious freedom bills are being used by Islamophobic extremists to demonize Islam and marginalize American Muslims.”  Overall, these recent developments signify the need to build more awareness around the topic of Shariah Law.

SF 2281, and bills like it, represents a fear and misunderstanding of Shariah Law and Islam that has been prevalent across America. A mind captured by fear often times resorts to committing injustice through blind assumptions. To tackle this problem, it is crucial to research some basic facts about Shariah Law for maintaining tolerance and for meaningful discussions on this issue. For a quick overview, Qasim Rashid has an article on the Huffington Post titled, “Shariah Law: The Five Things Every Non-Muslim (and Muslim) Should Know.”

Later this week, there will be a public forum to openly discuss Shariah Law:

“Shariah Law: Myths & Facts” by Odeh Muhawesh


Ridgedale Regional Center, Robert H. Rohlf Room

12601 Ridgedale Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55305


Saturday April 21, 2012 12:00-3:15pm

Free and open to public,*RSVP requested*

Sponsor: Islamic Media, 612-216-2478,,

Sharia Law Q and A

 Prayers on the Prairie showing on April 26th!

Prayers on the Prairie: Muslim in Minnesota

Men praying at Al Rahman Muslim Community Center.

Photo by Alex Nok Phasy

It is estimated that 150,000 Minnesotans are Muslim, yet their religious traditions are little understood by the mainstream. Join us over lunch for a brief introduction to Islam, background on the Prayers on the Prairie: Asian-Pacific Minnesotan Religious Practices project, and conversation about what it means to be Muslim in Minnesota.

When:  Thursday, April 26, 2012 from Noon.-1:15 p.m.

Where:  Minnesota Humanities Center, 987 Ivy Avenue East, St. Paul (map)

Intended Audience: Everyone welcome!

Cost:  $15

For information on the speaker Zafar Siddiqui and to learn more about this Lunch and Learn event, please visit our website.

Register online!

This event is part of the Lunch and Learn programming that amplifies collaborative work with partners. Each presentation features a leader from the community who engages participants in learning and discussion around this collaborative humanities work over the lunch hour.

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Community news, Press Release


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Alert: Telephone Scam Targeting Refugees

This was received from the Office of Refugee Resettlement:

Dear friends,

In early January, we circulated a message concerning a telephone scam targeting refugees.  At that time, a man was calling Bhutanese refugees, identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, 202-436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they were eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan.  To claim the money, they were instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money.

We have received updated reports that the scam is still on-going, but some of the details have since changed.  Most recently, refugees (again, still Bhutanese) have received calls from a man who identifies himself as “Nathan Price with the IRS” calling from a different DC-based telephone number, 202-657-4189, who instructs the refugees to have money wired to various people in India.

The most recent target of this scam lost over $6,000.

ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam, and avoid giving any personal information or making payments to unknown callers.

Please note that the federal government does not demand processing fees, security deposits, or overseas wire transfers from grant recipients or refugees.  If you are the target of a suspicious request, please contact your local police or resettlement agency for further assistance.

Please share this advisory widely within your own networks.


Reports of refugee families victimized by the recent telephone scam targeting Bhutanese refugees have come in from Texas, Washington State, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska.

We have been advised that victims of this scam should file an online report at; once enough incidents occur as tracked through that site, the FBI will pursue the case.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

ORR will continue to update this page as necessary.  Please help to spread the word throughout the refugee community and service providers network.  Thank you.

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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Community news, Press Release


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New Americans in Minnesota, a fact sheet from the Immigration Policy Center

Immigration stats


Originally posted at

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Minnesota’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Minnesota’s population rose from 2.6% in 1990, to 5.3% in 2000, to 7.1% in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota was home to 378,483 immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total population of New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • 44.7% of immigrants (or 169,246 people) in Minnesota were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • 4.3% (or 126,034) of registered voters in Minnesota were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

Roughly 1 in 11 Minnesotans are Latino or Asian.

  • Asians comprised 2.0% (or 56,000) of Minnesota voters in the 2008 elections, and Latinos accounted for 1.3%(or 35,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Minnesota, 86.3% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 200988.3% of children in Asian families in Minnesota were U.S. citizens, as were 90.3% of children in Latino families.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Minnesota’s economy.

  • The 2010 purchasing power of Minnesota’s Asians totaled $5.9 billion—an increase of 662.1% since 1990.
  • Minnesota’s 11,371 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.4 billion and employed 16,950 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.

Minnesota’s diverse immigrant population adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy.

  • In the Twin Cities metro area, 138 immigrant-owned businesses created 386 new jobs and spent $5.6 million on payroll, rent, and supplies in 2002, according to a study from the University of Minnesota.
  • More than 16,000 Asian-Indians living in Minnesota accounted for $500 million in consumer purchasing power, paid $5.2 million in real estate taxes and $2.3 million in rent, and owned 400 companies that employed more than 6,000 people, according to the same report.
  • Minnesota was home to 60,000 Hmong, whose businesses generated an estimated $100 million in revenue, according to the same report.

Immigrants are integral to Minnesota’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 8.3% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (or 243,842 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for 8% of total economic output in the Minneapolis metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 2.1% of the state’s workforce (or 60,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Minnesota, the state would lose $4.4 billion in economic activity, $2.0 billion in gross state product, and approximately 24,299 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Minnesota paid $81.7 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes:
  • $15.6 million in state income taxes.
  • $7.6 million in property taxes.
  • $58.4 million in sales taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Minnesota’s economy as students.

  • Minnesota’s 11,550 foreign students contributed $276.3 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Minnesota, 35.3% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2009 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 29.7% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 21.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 35.1% of noncitizens. 
  • The number of immigrants in Minnesota with a college degree increased by 71.2% between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Minnesota, 79.1% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Minnesota was 74%, while for Latino children it was 84.8%, as of 2009.
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Press Release


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EHDI Grant provides support for foreign-trained health care providers to gain licensure

Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI) grant to AAFACD succeeds in moving three foreign-trained health care providers closer to licensure!

African & American Friendship Association for Cooperation and Development (AAFACD) Inc. in partnership with Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), implements one of the first EHDI grants addressing social determinants of health to assist foreign trained health care professionals in obtaining licensure and further integrate and diversify Minnesota’s healthcare workforce to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services.

Currently, there are over 200 identified foreign trained healthcare professionals (FTHPs) in the AAFACD/WISE database.  The partnership provides outreach, advocacy and now collaboration with key decision makers at the University of Minnesota. This has led to the successful inclusion of EHDI-FTHPs into the second round of Preparation for Residency Program.

Preparation for Residency Program (PRP), first sponsored through State Legislative appropriation in early 2011, is a seven month externship program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The program enables foreign trained physicians who have passed all the required U.S. Medical Licensure Exams (USMLE) to apply for residency. The first three physicians to benefit from the program successfully completed it in four months and were immediately accepted into residency.

Funding from OMMH enables AAFACD/ WISE partnership to leverage funding from State, federal agencies, and local foundations to increase the success of the participants in their program. The $200,000 three year implementation grant for Social Determinants of Health – has helped to provide FTHPs with increased knowledge, networking and visibility by means of community outreach, health literacy/education, advocacy and mentorship. The grant also empowers the FTHPs by providing financial resources in order to complete their exams in a shorter time period.

Three of the four selected physicians are EHDI beneficiaries and all are from communities of color: Dr. Adalberto Torres-Gorrin (from Cuba), Dr. Khem Kumar Adhikari (from Bhutan) and Dr. Mahamud Jimale, is a Somali refugee who came to the US over 10 years ago. The fourth is Dr. Said Tawil, an immigrant from Jordon.

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Press Release


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