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The American ideal
I left my country without choice, left everyone and everything that I knew. I witnessed the horror of war as a young child. I thought I finally made it through. Why do I feel shaken and uncertain?
- Saciido Shaie

by Saciido Shaie

Once upon a time Somalia was the land of poets. It was the land that people traveled to for vacations. We had a good government, an atmosphere that was peaceful and people that treated one another as family.

As a victim of war, I know the pain and the cruel impact it has on society. In 1990, a civil war broke out in Somalia and many families ventured to other parts of Africa and beyond.

America became my new home, giving me a new beginning - one that would help me grow into the person that I am today. However, I will never forget about where I am from and the history of my country of Somalia.

Every year new immigrants come to America, leaving their country without choice. They are running from violence, war, hunger and have a lack of opportunities. This is what brought me to this beautiful country, where there are opportunities, education, safety, a law and order.

As a Muslim woman, I believe in the American dream that everyone regardless of religion, ethnicity, color and income has the right to that dream. I am committed to the public ideals of unity and community, social and economic justice, and peace at home and abroad. I believe in the virtues of hospitality, dialogue, partnership and openness.

As a Muslim East African woman, a mother and a community advocate, women and women's rights are dear to my heart. My mother raised me alone, saving me from harm. I am educated, have a job, and a safe place to call home.

Now, I have the power to stand with those who are making positive changes around the world, particularly women. I am willing to raise my voice and be the voice for the voiceless because that is my responsibility.

However, it has become very difficult for me to exercise my responsibility. Though most Americans are great, genuine, welcoming and helpful people, there are a few people who hate me and hate those who look like me. I have received hate messages through social media and in public places.

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Why me? I left my country without choice, left everyone and everything that I knew. I witnessed the horror of war as a young child. I thought I finally made it through. Why do I feel shaken and uncertain?

In September, a Somali man stabbed shoppers at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud. At least eight people were injured and he died after being shot by an off-duty officer. As a member of the Somali community, I was very sad, angry and confused.

I was sad because he injured innocent people. They were someone's child, daughter, uncle, father, partner, friend, neighbor. I know the horror of violence and I hate to know someone is going through that. I was angry for that young man who committed this horrendous act.

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