Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition

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2022 MUSLIM COMMUNITY EID FESTIVAL

After the morning prayer service on Eid al-Fitr, the festivities continued at State Fair Park in West Allis, WI. The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Islamic Society of Milwaukee – Main, Islamic Society of Milwaukee – Brookfield and Hanan Refugee Relief Group presented the CommUNITY Eid Festival 2022.  

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U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ilhan Omar praise conditions at Fort McCoy, call out ‘fearmongering”

U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore and Ilhan Omar praised conditions for the nearly 13,000 Afghan refugees housed at Fort McCoy, commending the state of medical care and vetting at the military base in western Wisconsin during a visit Saturday.

Moore, of Milwaukee, and Omar, of Minnesota, detailed their tour of the base alongside members of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, who brought a truckload of new clothes to donate to the Afghans currently housed at the base. The congresswomen had previously called for an investigation into conditions at the base after reports of neglect and mistreatment.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported earlier this month that many refugees had not received new sets of clothes, with women facing harassment by Afghan men at the base. An official with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the refugees at the base, has said those problems have since been addressed.

There had also been reports of refugees waiting for several hours for meager allocations of food.
 

“It was for us an interest in doing our oversight work as members of Congress, to try to see what was actually happening here in the military base of Fort McCoy,” said Omar.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported earlier this month that many refugees had not received new sets of clothes, with women facing harassment by Afghan men at the base. An official with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the refugees at the base, has said those problems have since been addressed.

There had also been reports of refugees waiting for several hours for meager allocations of food.
“It was for us an interest in doing our oversight work as members of Congress, to try to see what was actually happening here in the military base of Fort McCoy,” said Omar.

The congresswomen, both Democrats, also rebuked criticism of refugee vetting made by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, of Oshkosh, who said the base was a national security concern after two Afghan men were charged in federal court for separate incidents of alleged assault and sexual abuse of children.

“I know there are a lot of people who are fearmongering for political reasons, but these are probably the safest neighbors we can have in our communities,” Omar said.

Moore seconded the thoroughness of vetting at the base, saying the group met children and Afghans with advanced degrees during the tour.

“We really did not run into criminals,” Moore said.

 
Clothing truck

Brig. Gen. Chris Norrie with Task Force Fort McCoy speaks with Shawn Payne of the Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center beside a shipment of donated clothes for the nearly 13,000 Afghan refugees housed at Fort McCoy on Saturday.

The clothing donated on Saturday included winter coats, gloves and hats, sorely needed by the refugees as cold weather fast approaches in Wisconsin.

One member of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Inshirah Farhoud, said many refugees they met at the base had yet to receive unused clothing.

While at the base, which is about 40 miles east of La Crosse, the congresswomen were briefed by State Department and Homeland Security officials and later toured refugee facilities. Moore said that 24/7 medical care was available at the base, noting that cases of measles at the base had been treated and that other refugees with medical conditions had been taken to area hospitals.

“The number of people who are falling ill is diminishing every single day, which tells us this community is becoming more and more healthy,” Moore remarked.

The House of Representatives authorized more than $6 billion for Afghan resettlement earlier this week, which includes a new timeline for the refugees to claim asylum. At the base Saturday, Moore said that Afghans are expected to begin resettling in the United States around Thanksgiving.

Representative Moore & Omar tour Fort McCoy, speak with refugees about needs & next steps

 

Representative Moore & Omar tour Fort McCoy, speak with refugees about needs & next steps

 
Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
 

FORT MCCOY, Wis. (WMTV) – Two Democratic lawmakers said their minds are at ease after a private tour of living facilities at Fort McCoy, a week after they called for an investigation into possible mistreatment and claims of inadequate living conditions for the nearly 13,000 Afghan refugees currently housed there.

Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar toured the military base and spoke with refugees on Saturday, following a call by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition to investigate these allegations.

“It was for us an interest in doing our oversight work as members of Congress, to try to see what actually was happening here in the military base of Fort McCoy,” said Representative Omar.

Both Representative Omar and Congresswoman Moore said they were impressed with the work military officials have put into making life comfortable for the refugees.

Representative Omar said many families they spoke with are eager to start their new lives in America and contribute to society.

“I know that there are a lot of people who are fear-mongering for political reasons, but these are probably the safest Americans we can, safest neighbors we can have in our communities and the agencies that are doing this work are trusted,” said Representative Omar.

The base is currently nearing capacity, housing approximately 12,600 refugees right now. Congresswoman Moore said from what she learned during the tour, many of the refugees at Fort McCoy could start resettling in their new homes in the states as soon as mid-November.

 

“Just on Thursday we passed legislation not only to create actual resources with 6 billion dollars, but also to create a pathway for that status to be adjusted so that when the folks here who don’t have a permanent status but have humanitarian parolee can actually get a status of a refugee resettlement and receive the resources that is necessary for them to adjust to life in America,” said Representative Omar.

Members of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition joined them for the tour and brought along a truckload of new items including winter coats, baby items, hijabs, and other culturally appropriate clothing.

They also wanted to speak face to face with the Afghan women and let them know they will be welcomed in their new communities.

“We assured them that it’s not just the Muslim community, but across the United States we as a country have opened our arms and we are just simply waiting to learn how we can help them settle and realize their dreams,” said Janan Najeeb, the President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

Najeeb said these conversations were heart wrenching, but also inspiring.

“These are proud people. These are individuals that have always worked hard. They are high achievers. We met Fulbright’s amongst them, we met every level that you can imagine and one of the things that stayed with me is that they said we’re eager to get out and not be a burden on society, but rather to contribute to society,” told Najeeb.

Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and Hanan Refugee Relief Group bring a 3rd shipment of...
Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and Hanan Refugee Relief Group bring a 3rd shipment of donations for Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy(Erin Sullivan WMTV)

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Building Bridges Program Grantees

We are excited to share the news that PBS Wisconsin and our project partners, the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the We Are Many-United Against Hate Network, have received a #BuildingBridgesProgram grant today from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation! Learn more about our exciting project to use storytelling and community conversation as catalysts for learning, empathy and building bridges of understanding across diverse populations, and 21 other arts and media efforts working with Muslims in the United States to strengthen cross-community understanding. Click here for the full press release.