Christianity and Islam: What American Christians need to know about Muslims
Since President Trump’s executive order banning the admission of non-US citizens from seven Muslim countries, many Christians have been debating the pros and cons of accepting immigrants from places which may be affected by terrorists. So this week I’m writing about an actual refugee from one of those countries, Somalia.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was working in Washington DC for the Somali embassy in 1988 when, due to the anarchy in his home country, he asked for asylum. The US tended to grant such requests in those days, so Mr. Mohamed was accepted. A little while later, he moved to Buffalo, NY and enrolled at the State University of New York, earning a Bachelor’s degree in History. He went to work for the city and state government agencies while continuing his education, eventually earning a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Buffalo.
Here’s where its gets interesting. All along, Mohamed had remained involved in Somali affairs. When a new government was formed in 2010, Mohamed was chosen to be Prime Minister.
By all accounts, he did well, setting up a regular payment system for soldiers and speaking loudly against corruption. He was forced out in 2011, despite popular support among Somalis. He resumed his Buffalo job with the NYS Department of Transportation, but he will soon be returning to Somalia…as its newly elected President.
Mohamed is a US citizen,so he could have chosen to live out a safe, comfortable life in the US. Instead, he has chosen a dangerous path, to try to be an instrument of peace in a war-torn country. As far as I know, Mohamed is not a Christian; nevertheless, he is doing God’s work. So if Christians can support Donald Trump (whose personal behavior is not always “christian”), then we can certainly push our government to promote Mohamed’s campaign to end corruption and violence in Somalia.
As I wrote at the start, Somalia is in the news as a country from which President Trump does not wish to accept immigrants. Will this action reduce the number of terrorist attacks in the United States? I don’t know; exactly zero Somalians have taken part in terrorist attacks in the last 40 years, so it’s hard to see how saying “no” to Somalians is any better than saying “no” to, say, Canadians. I do know, however, that if we had said “no” to Mr. Mohamed, the United States would have lost a link to a man who has a real chance of transforming a war-torn country of more than 12 million people. If Mr. Mohamed successfully leads Somalia in a better direction, it will be in part because Americans have supported him these past thirty years. (And if things are better in Somalia, there will be fewer refugees and potential Somalian terrorists. Everyone wins.)
Christians should be trying to produce more men and women who really can make the world a better place. I don’t know if saying “no” to refugees will keep out more potential terrorists, since there have been zero terrorist attacks by Somalians in the last forty years (we can’t do better than zero). I do know that a “no refugees” policy will prevent young men and women from finding safety and from learning and embracing American ideas about good leadership.
These days, helping foreigners (especially Muslims!) to grow as people may or may not be important to Americans. But helping human beings to use their abilities to make the world a better place must be a Christian priority. Let’s not allow fear to prevent us from welcoming the next generation of Mohameds.