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Politics & Government

U.S. Attorney In Boise Brings Together Muslim And Refugee Communities

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A new effort to bring together Idaho police, leaders from Muslim and refugee communities, and advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is underway in Boise. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said Friday in a press release that a meeting this week between the various groups was the first step in building stronger connections. 

“We are at a critical time in our nation and in our own community – from the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, to anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed by groups and individuals in Idaho, to defiance in parts of some states to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges...There are many currents that seek to divide communities. Instead, we have to come together. We need to stand up and form strategies against those who espouse extremist ideologies and recruit others to engage in violent acts in our communities on their behalf. We want to mentor our young people, educate parents, identify solutions, and form closer relationships between refugees and Idahoans who have been here for generations.” - U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson

In June, a group of conservative activists began asking for the end of a program that resettles refugees in Twin Falls. The College of Southern Idaho's Refugee Center announced in April that 300 Syrian refugees were expected to resettle in Idaho in the coming year.

The release from Olson's office goes on to say that another purpose of this week's meeting was to "reassure members of the refugee community and Muslim community that with the federal terrorism trial in United States v. Kurbanov scheduled to begin July 13, law enforcement officers will be vigilant to protecting them against bias crimes."

Fazliddin Kurbanov is an Uzbek refugee who was arrested in 2013 and charged with helping a terrorist organization. 

“To be certain, international terrorism and the conduct of those who are inspired by international terrorist groups to engage in violent conduct pose a serious threat to every community in this nation...Law enforcement agencies and my office will be deliberate and thorough in pursuing such criminal cases. But we also take great care to ensure that individuals are investigated and prosecuted based on specific illegal acts, not based on how they appear, or how they worship or where they are from." -U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson

Olson's office is planning more sessions about community building, and says anyone who wants to be a part of the group should contact her office.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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