SEATTLE – Chanting, “Being a Muslim is not a crime,” more than 200 people marched here Nov. 7 to support civil rights for Somalian residents. Immigrants from the east African country were joined by others to protest an FBI raid on Somali-owned businesses. As part of a nationwide effort, the FBI raided 62 wire-transfer services claiming they helped fund terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden.
The Barakat Wire Transfer was in the same building as the Maka Mini Mart, but they are owned by different people. Not only did the FBI raid the building, it also confiscated and then destroyed all the items in the grocery.
Like many first-generation immigrants in the United States, many Somalis send home to relatives whatever extra money they can afford. Farhiya Dini, a nursing student, said, “I will continue to send money to my relatives who need it – this is not an act of terrorism.”
However, without the use of the wire-transfer service, getting money home to war-torn Somalia is not an easy task. “Western Union doesn’t exist in my hometown,” Dini said. “How are my relatives supposed to get the money they need for necessities now?”
This latest affront to civil rights in the U.S. has left many Somalis shocked and frightened. “Already, after Sept. 11, I was getting nasty looks and comments from people on the bus because I’ve got dark skin and wear a scarf,” Dini said. “I’m afraid now it will only get worse.”
Mahdy Maaweel, who owns a travel agency in a building on the same lot as the market, summed up the situation. “We’re struggling to pay our rent, let alone [have enough money to] support terrorism.”