Newsletter #53 – Civic engagement is where it’s at!

The Somalialand Sun newspaper article written by Heidi Hall of The Tennessean also quoted Nashville resident Abudlkadir Gure, described as a Somali who came to the U.S. on a visa in 2003.  He works as a “court translator, driving instructor and Arabic teacher.”

Ms. Hall omitted information about the other activities with which Mr. Gure is involved, including:

-Middle Tennessee organizer for the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)

-active protester against the TN anti-terrorism material support bill

-president and spokesman for the Nashville Metro Taxi Drivers Alliance which offered free rides from two Nashville mosque locations to Legislative Plaza, to those who wanted to go and protest against the anti-terrorism bill

-volunteer with the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee (CRIT)

-attendee 2011 Rights Working Group Training, Washington, D.C.

A word about TIRRC

Formed in 2001, TIRRC was a result of a U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement grant awarded to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce for the “Building the New American Community” pilot program.  The program was designed to “foster the successful integration of refugees and immigrants at a community level.”  This goal was believed to best achieved through “economic self-sufficiency and meaningful civic participation”, including the development of refugee and immigrant leadership.

By TIRRC’s own description, their focus is to “empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice…”.  Sort of like a labor union model for immigrants and refugees except propped up with public funding.  A review of TIRRC’s policy positions and description of its accomplishments presumes that Tennesseans and Tennessee policymakers are anti-immigrants/refugees.  However, there is nothing in TIRRC’s advocacy that acknowledges that what concerns Tennesseans and policymakers is the militant insistence that cultural and religious demands made by “new Americans” must be met, regardless of anything else– period.

But query – is it unreasonable for Tennesseans to question TIRRC and its progenies’ activities that bring yet more Muslim Brotherhood presence to the state?  What about programs and policy positions that promote more Islamist dominance? Remember when the then-TIRRC policy coordinator, Remziya Suleyman brought unindicted co-conspirator Hamas-CAIR to Tennessee to lobby against the anti-terrorism legislation?  And then more recently when CAIR Executive Director and founder Nihad Awad came to visit leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which includes Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the TN American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC).

Newsletter #2 explains more fully the relationship between TIRRC and AMAC and just to bring it full circle, the co-chairs of AMAC now are both Board members of TIRRC.

The Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee (CRIT)

CRIT was formerly named the Somali Community Center.  In 2007Abdirizak Hassan, the Center’s Executive Director until sometime in 2011, was charged with and sentenced to 2 years federal probation for making false statements in connection with a federal grant for the Center.  Despite these charges, he was still able to apply for and have the Center receive federal grant money throughout this time period.

The federal charge relates back to his indictment in 2001 for felony illegal banking.  Prior to serving as ED of the Somali Community Center/CRIT, Hassan ran a hawala money changing business out of a convenience store.  As reported by WSMV in Nashville and recorded by New English Review:

“Hassan’s Nashville bank was shut down by counter-terrorism investigators because they said the bank was linked to Al-Barakat…….Al-Barakat is a bank and wiring transfer service that is linked to al-Qaida, according to investigators.  Hassan was arrested and charged with felony illegal banking.  While out on bond, Hassan and the Somali Center were awarded a grant in the amount of nearly $500,000 by the same federal government that indicted him.”

The CRIT/Somali Community Center, is what is known as an “ethnic based organization” that receives taxpayer money from the Tennessee Office for Refugees to provide refugee resettlement services.

CRIT and refugee job placement

A page on CRIT’s website details for potential employers all the advantages of hiring refugees.  Among the reasons listed:

“You [employer] could qualify for tax incentives by hiring refugees: Since many refugees receive public assistance, your company could qualify for tax credits and training incentives when you hire them.

Our job placement services are FREE: Rather than spend money placing job advertisements, contact the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee. Let us help you find qualified workers FREE OF CHARGE.

Refugees are flexible about what shift they work and what days they work: Many refugees will work second or third shift or weekends and holidays. Many of our refugee workers can work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day.”

What the CRIT doesn’t say, however, is that it comes at a cost of employee demands to impose Shariah requirements related to prayer time, dress codes and days of religious observance.  (With regard to the negotiated drop of Labor Day in favor of Eid al-Fitr the retraction there was a significant nationally based “objection” voiced to Tysons.)

And why is Tyson’s Human Resource Manager, Gary Denton, on the CRIT Board?

The Rights Working Group

As stated on their website, the Rights Working Group (RWG) is “a diverse coalition of 340 local state and national organizations that works strenuously to protect the civil liberties and human rights of everyone irrespective or race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.”

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is a member of RWG’s steering committee.

Member groups include some nationally based organizations such as the ACLU.  There are also state-based member groups.  Along with TIRRC and the TN ACLU, some of Tennessee member groups include the Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Center of Nashville, the Nashville Kurdish Forum, the Somali Students Association of TN, CRIT, and Black Unity which is located in Nashville.

Provisions included in the Code of Conduct posted on the Black Unity website:

         NO SNITCHING– The Police, Capitalism, the State etc. are an enemy to the people and to work with them is criminal, Ancestral Treason! Loose lips sink ships, snitching is unforgivable.

         WARRIOR CODE – Security first! Protect Women, Children, & Elders. Train; work out get your fighting skills up to par. Police your own community. We don’t need pigs overseeing us.

         NO FALSE FLAGGIN’ – Red, white, and blue ain’t never did sh*t for you. Don’t be a star-spangled slave. Get on the right team; rally round the flag on some Red, Black, and Green.

         BUILD SURVIVAL PROGRAMS – The people come first. You are your Brother/Sisters keeper. Capitalism teaches individualism, which is anti-African. We have to create programs that are for the best interest of the people (especially Food, Clothing and Shelter).

The Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE)

NICE is another Tennessee based Rights Working Group member group.  It is also another voluntary refugee resettlement agency.

Governor Haslam’s State Chief of Staff for the TN Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), Mr. Will Alexander (Sen. Lamar Alexander’s son), serves as an officer on the NICE Board in the position as Treasurer.  And NICE’s President & CEO, Gatluak Thach is on the Board of TIRRC alongside the co-chairs of Governor Haslam’s Muslim Advisory Council.

Full circle.  Very full circle.