Refugees

Being a Muslim In Idaho During a Time of Backlash

Jan 14, 2016
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

It has not been an easy past few months to be a Muslim in America. After the Paris attacks, presidential candidate Donald Trump said there should be a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. His polls immediately soared. In Boise, the Islamic Center says the Muslim population in the Treasure Valley may well be over ten thousand.  Now, some of Boise's Muslims are sharing how it feels to be a Muslim in the current political climate. 

tilproject.com

Idaho lawmakers Thursday evening are invited to a presentation by an anti-Islamic preacher and an anti-immigration advocate. The speakers will be in the Capitol’s largest public meeting room, the Lincoln Auditorium.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

In 2015, nearly 730,000 foreign-born people took the oath to become U.S. citizens. That included 1,449 in Idaho. Thursday more joined them in Idaho’s first naturalization ceremony of the year.

Sometimes these ceremonies are done with a lot of pomp at public events like 4th of July celebrations. This one is in the waiting room of a federal office, the kind of place where most days people take a number and wait to talk to someone through a window.

Courtesy Courtney Wyatt

At the Boise Bike Project Saturday children will be getting free bicycles. That’s not unusual, that’s what the Bike Project does. But this time some of the kids getting the bikes were passengers in a car that hit - and severely injured - a boy only five-years old. And it was the mother of that boy who asked that these kids get bikes.

Here’s the part you may have heard about. This past September a 5-year-old Boise boy named Maximo was riding his bike home from kindergarten with his dad when he was hit by a minivan.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise International Market burned down in September, putting its business owners out of work. This weekend, a handful of those - mostly refugee - entrepreneurs started back up in a temporary location for the holiday season.

Trailhead in downtown Boise is in a pretty good location for restaurants and retail. It isn’t designed for either, though. Trailhead is a business incubator.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

On Saturday, more than 1000 Idahoans rallied at the state capitol for and against refugee resettlement. That was after the state's governor and Congressional delegation all requested a suspension of the refugee resettlement program until they are assured that a comprehensive vetting process is in place.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

About 700 people turned out at the state capitol in Boise on Saturday to show their support for refugee resettlement. Since the attacks in Paris over a week ago, Governor Butch Otter and Idaho’s congressional delegation have stated their concerns over the vetting process of refugees.

Sean Michael Foster, one of the organizers, thinks the refugee backlash comes down to politics.

Idaho Capitol, statehouse
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Supporters of refugees in Idaho are holding a rally Saturday, in response to the attacks in Paris and to send a message to state lawmakers.

The group's Facebook page, the Rally For Solidarity With Refugees in Idaho, says it “is simply a meeting for Idahoans to express their solidarity with refugees from Syria and the rest of the world.”

A federal official who helps oversee refugee resettlement in the U.S. says despite an effort to do away with a program in Twin Falls, he still thinks the city is a viable option for refugees.

Washington Post

New analysis from the Washington Post ranks Idaho among the top five most welcoming states for refugees. The newspaper looked at the relative populations of the states where refugees were re-settled in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Nebraska also ranked near the top.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

About 20 small business owners, many of them refugees, lost their livelihoods and their dreams when the Boise International Market burned down over the weekend. But the market’s owners Lori Porreca and Miguel Gaddi lost their business and their dream as well. The partners in life and business worked for years to make the market a reality only to lose it after less than a year of operation. They were out of town to get married when the fire happened.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A campaign is under way in Twin Falls County to ban refugee centers. The city of Twin Falls is home to the College of Southern Idaho's resettlement program, which has been around for 30 years. The group behind the campaign argues refugee centers are a public nuisance. Some supporters are worried about dangerous refugees moving to the area. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

In June of 2014, we first told you about a new place that was under construction in Boise where refugees and others would soon be able to own small businesses. Last April we introduced you to some of them as the Boise International Market celebrated its grand opening. But over the weekend the market burned.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A visiting Boise State professor has spent this week trying to get Idaho children to connect with refugee children.

The “Quilting to Speak” workshop is the brainchild of Reshmi Mukherjee. She’s a visiting professor at Boise State, and is teaching a course this summer about communication between refugees and non-refugees.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Conservative activists are calling for the College of Southern Idaho to remove its refugee program following concerns over the influx of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in south-central Idaho later this fall.

The Times-News reports that the group formed after college officials announced in April that 300 refugees were expected to resettle in Idaho at the start of the new federal fiscal year. Many of the refugees will possibly come from Syria, leading some community members to speculate they could be radical Muslims.

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