||04-02-2009 12:11 AM
Several hundred Somalis establish colony in rural TN town
At first glance, Shelbyville is your typical sleepy southern hamlet. It's nestled in middle Tennessee, where the walking horse is king.
There's Main St., the local sheriff, a movie theatre. It's all very "Mayberry," except for one big difference: the recent arrival of hundreds of Somali Muslims
"They've had an impact here. Unfortunately, it's not been a good impact," said Brian Mosely, a reporter for the local Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
"I found that there was just an enormous culture clash going on here," he said. "The Somalis were--according to a lot of the people I talked to here--were being very, very rude, inconsiderate, very demanding. Tthey would go into stores and haggle over prices. They would also demand to see a male salesperson, would not deal with women in stores"
"Their culture is totally alien to anything the residents are used to," Mosely added.
The problems extend to local schools--where some Somali students won't talk to female administrators. There have also been issues with local law enforcement.
"I'm not really sure whether that is because of experiences with the police in their country, or whether that's just the way their culture is," said Shelbyville's Police Chief, Austin Swing.
Shelbyville is home to about 17,000 people. The town's Somali population is estimated to be between 400 and 1,000.
More than 150,000 Somalis now live in the U.S., most in larger cities like Minneapolis, Nashville, Boston, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.
Gang activity has been a major concern. And according to the U.S. government, at least a dozen young Somali Americans have returned home in recent months to join an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group called al-Shabab.
So how did so many Somalis end up in rural Shelbyville? The answer can be complicated....
Full story: Somali Muslims Changing Small Town - World - CBN News
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